I discovered a plethora of questions about Scrum values (some off the wall), and I intend to answer them here as part of a “learning in the open” exercise.
The Scrum values are a set of tenets that guide the decisions and actions of individuals and teams practicing the Scrum framework.
These values are focus, openness, respect, courage, and commitment.
The five Scrum values are focus, openness, respect, courage, and commitment. These values promote collaboration, trust, and a shared understanding among team members, helping them to work effectively together and deliver high-quality products.
Scrum teams behave according to five fundamental values: focus, openness, respect, courage, and commitment. These values guide Scrum team members, encouraging them to work collaboratively, communicate openly, and remain flexible and adaptable in their approach to product development.
Okay, I cheated here a bit; this isn’t a question but a statement that appears to be a frequently searched term on Google. I’m curious to know why one person would search for this, much less others, but I wanted to set the record straight.
Integrity is not one of the Scrum values. The Scrum Guide confirms this:
“Successful use of Scrum depends on people becoming more proficient in living five values: Commitment, Focus, Openness, Respect, and Courage.”
- Scrum Guide
There are only five, and they’re listed there, and as you can see, folks, integrity is not one of them.
WIP (Work In Progress) limits encourage the Scrum value of focus. By limiting the work in progress at any given time, teams can focus on completing the highest-priority items before moving on to something different. This concentration helps ensure that the team delivers value consistently and avoids distractions that could impede their progress.
I can’t speak for anyone else, but I find it overwhelming when I see a Product Backlog with a ton of work on it. So, I think of blinders on a horse when I think of WIP limits.
All the work is still there, but we won’t look at that scary mountain of work. We’re only going to look straight ahead at the few items we must get done now.
There are five Scrum Values: focus, openness, respect, courage, and commitment.
There are five Scrum values, not four. The five Scrum values are:
I find this FAQ perplexing. These people know that that are multiple Scrum values, but for some reason, they think there are four and not five. I suspected that the Scrum Guide used to refer to only four, and Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland added a fifth one later, but that’s not the case. There were five when the Scrum values first appeared in the guide in 2016. As far as I can tell, there has never been more or less. Always five.
Although there are three pillars of Scrum (inspection, transparency, and adaptation), there are five Scrum values (focus, openness, respect, courage, and commitment).
I suspect those asking about the three Scrum values conflate the values with the pillars. Although the Scrum values and pillars are related, they are different, and it’s necessary to understand those differences.
The Scrum Value most demonstrated when a team completes a task before moving on to the next one is “focus.”
The value of focus emphasizes the importance of the team completing work and minimizing distractions and impediments. By completing a Product Backlog Item before moving on to the next one, the team demonstrates their ability to stay focused on the current objective and see it through to completion.
If the Product Owner constantly wants to change the Product Goal, the Scrum Master may need to coach them on the importance of focus.
Respect, focus, and courage are violated by building Product Backlog Items that have low business value.
The first time I came across the idea of not building things that are essentially waste is a form of respect was in Gunther Verheyen’s blog post There’s value in the Scrum Values:
“We show respect for our sponsors by not building features that nobody will use. We show respect by not wasting money on things that are not valuable or might never being implemented or used.”
- Gunther Verheyen
After some reflection, this made sense to me. Respect is about having due regard for the feelings, wishes, rights, or traditions of others. The Scrum framework is all about maximizing the value generated by the team. It’s disrespectful to the company to use its resources in a way that provides no value. This misuse of the team’s capabilities goes against the wishes and goals of the overall organization to maximize the value provided.
We violate the value of respect when we knowingly reduce the value the development team delivers.
Focus is all about concentrating our efforts on completing the things that will provide the most value. We demonstrate the value of focus by avoiding the distraction of Product Backlog Items that provide low (or no) value.
We violate the value of focus when we allow ourselves to be distracted by low-value work.
Someone, somewhere, asked that the team complete this Product Backlog Item, and they believe that it will provide business value. It can take courage to inform that person that although their request may have value, it’s a lower value than other requests, and, therefore, the team will not prioritize it over more valuable work.
In my experience, the problem isn’t a lower valued Product Backlog Item. It’s more like a feature that someone high up in the company is convinced is a great idea, while everyone knows users will never utilize the functionality. Everyone on the development team knows what the entire team thinks, but no one wants to be the first person to speak up.
I found several instances of people asking a similar question as a multiple-choice question. I suspect this question originated from some question bank to study for a particular Scrum exam, perhaps the PSM 1, though I couldn’t confirm that.
The easiest way to answer this question is to rule out the obviously incorrect items. The question asks you to choose three Scrum values; economic value added and earned value aren’t Scrum values. That only leaves you with three options, and all three (respect, focus, and courage) are Scrum values, so that is the answer.
To differentiate between Scrum values and non-Scrum values, you can use a mnemonic to remember the five key terms: focus, openness, respect, courage, and commitment. By applying this memory aid, you can quickly and easily identify which terms are values and which are not.
The acronym for the Scrum values is FORCC, pronounced “Force.” The sentence: “Faster Output Requires Close Collaboration” can help you remember the acronym as it both describes the benefits of exemplifying the values.It’s a useful mnemonic to remember the five Scrum values of Focus, Openness, Respect, Courage, and Commitment.
Faster Output Requires Close Collaboration
Personally, I remember the phrase: For Cece.
When I memorized the values, my heartmate and I were watching a show called New Girl with a character named Cece.
I tried several ways of arranging the first letters of each of the five scrum values, but nothing initially resonated with me. Eventually, I landed on FORCC, which I remember as if I have a gift for the character Cece. I know I’m weird, but I recommend you find something that will work for you. Perhaps my mnemonic is odd enough that you’ll also remember it.
Integrity is not a Scrum value. We covered this above. If you’re practicing for a test requiring you to recall the Scrum values, develop a mnemonic to help you remember the five. See the above for my example.
Answer: A & D
From a simple test-taking perspective, three answers revolve around others deciding on behalf of the Scrum team. The other two answers center around the self-organization of the development teams. Given that we’re looking for two answers, it makes sense it would be the two correspond to each other.
From the perspective of understanding Scrum, the primary focus here is on self-organizing teams. The 2020 Scrum Guide has updated the language to refer to self-managing teams, but the concept as it applies to this question would still apply.
“Scrum Teams are cross-functional, meaning the members have all the skills necessary to create value each Sprint. They are also self-managing, meaning they internally decide who does what, when, and how.”
- Scrum Guide
I want to call out, though, that there are only five Scrum values, and this principle of self-management doesn’t make the list. When the question refers to Scrum’s values, it’s not referring to the literal five values of Scrum but more to the overall concept of self-organizing teams.
However, you could see the Scrum value of respect to promote self-management.
“Scrum Team members respect each other to be capable, independent people, and are respected as such by the people with whom they work.”
- Scrum Guide
The 5 Scrum values support an environment that fosters collaboration, adaptability, and continuous improvement.
The value of Focus emphasizes the importance of everyone in the Scrum Team working towards the same goal. The team can prioritize and complete the essential Product Backlog Items by focusing on the Sprint Goal and Product Goal.
The value of courage promotes an environment where team members feel safe to voice their opinions, take risks, and try new things. It encourages team members to challenge the status quo and continuously improve.
The value of openness encourages transparency and communication within the team. Scrum Team members should be open about their progress, challenges, and ideas. It also means being receptive to feedback and suggestions from others. The transparency created by openness allows inspection to reveal opportunities for adaptation that lead to continuous improvement.
The value of commitment emphasizes the importance of the team’s dedication to delivering the best possible product. Each team member is accountable for their part in achieving the goal, and everyone must collaborate to ensure success.
The value of respect is about treating everyone in the team with respect and dignity. It means valuing everyone’s contributions, opinions, and expertise. It also means trusting team members to be competent enough to complete quality work without being micromanaged. Team members should collaborate and support each other in completing the Sprint Backlog.
Scrum values are essential because they create an environment promoting the three Scrum pillars of transparency, inspection, and adaptation. These three pillars support empiricism.
“Scrum is founded on empiricism and lean thinking. Empiricism asserts that knowledge comes from experience and making decisions based on what is observed.”
- Scrum Guide
Empirical process control is at the heart of this process because it emphasizes gathering data, testing assumptions, and making decisions based on evidence rather than speculation or intuition. This approach encourages the team to continually inspect and adapt their work based on feedback from users, stakeholders, and other data sources.
A team must embody the five core values of Scrum to make data-driven decisions. Team members may be willing to question established norms or practices with courage. Without openness, team members may lack the necessary information for inspecting and adapting their work. With focus, the team can make meaningful progress that can be measured and evaluated. Finally, with respect, the team’s ability to adapt may be unrestricted as the opinions of dominant team members will be less likely to prevent diverse perspectives.
A team member is working on a very specific solution involving a new technology. Teammates work together to speed up their progress. With their teammates’ help, they get it across the finish line.
In this scenario, two values are in play: focus and commitment.
Focus comes into play because the developers are working together to achieve a common goal. Commitment goes beyond this and implies a willingness to do whatever it takes to achieve that goal. In this scenario, the team members are not just focused on the goal, but they are also committed to helping each other and doing what is necessary to achieve it.
After further research into the source of this common question, I learned that this is a question from the Google Project Management Agile Project Management Weekly Challenge 2. In that challenge, the quiz only provides four options: respect, focus, openness, and courage. Focus would be the best answer for those options (commitment being absent from the list).
All five Scrum values (focus, openness, respect, courage, and commitment) are equally important and work together to support the Scrum framework’s principles and practices.
Each value plays a vital role in the success of a Scrum team. Commitment ensures that the team is dedicated to achieving its goals, Focus keeps the team aligned and moving towards the Sprint Goal, Openness promotes transparency and collaboration, respect encourages empathy and teamwork, and courage enables the team to address challenges and opportunities.
It’s important to note that the Scrum framework is designed to be flexible and adaptable, so the relative importance of each value may vary depending on the specific context and needs of the team. Ultimately, a Scrum team’s success relies on their ability to embody all of the Scrum values and work together effectively towards their shared goals.
Although all five Scrum values are critical to the success of the agile team, the value that I feel stands out as particularly important is openness.
The value of openness is essential throughout the various Scrum events, such as the Daily Scrum, Sprint Planning, Sprint Retrospective, and Sprint Review. During the Daily Scrum, team members should openly communicate about their progress, plans, and any impediments they face. In Sprint Planning, the team should be open about their capacity, potential risks, and the expected outcome of the Sprint. In the Sprint Retrospective, the team should be open about what worked well and what didn’t to improve in the next Sprint. In the Sprint Review, the team should be open to feedback from stakeholders and customers.
The team will communicate effectively and progress toward their goals with openness. Openness is about creating an environment where team members feel safe to share their thoughts and ideas, ask for help, and give and receive feedback. Team members can build trust and collaborate effectively by being open with each other.
A new member has just joined an existing Development Team that has been together for several Sprints. During the Sprint, the individual has been trying to share his ideas and viewpoints but is continuously ignored by the rest of the Development Team.
Answer: BEF. Respect, openness, and courage.
Openness means that all team members should be willing to communicate and share their ideas, regardless of their position or experience level. In this scenario, the new team member tries to share their views but is continuously ignored, indicating that the Development Team may not fully embrace the value of openness.
Respect means that team members should treat each other with empathy, trust, and professionalism.
Courage is a Scrum value that encourages team members to take risks, challenge existing ways of doing things, and speak up when they see opportunities for improvement. In this situation, the new team member shows courage by sharing their ideas even when others ignore them. However, the rest of the Development Team should also exhibit courage by evaluating the new team member’s ideas. This team’s lack of courage can result in missed opportunities for potential improvements or innovative solutions that the new team member’s ideas may bring.
This complete list of questions was all that people commonly asked about the Scrum values. Let me know if you have a question not directly answered in this post. I’ll do my best to answer any questions on the Scrum values.
That covers the list of frequently asked questions relating to the Scrum Values. Let me know if you think I missed something or if you have a question you’d like for me to answer.