Tag: agile

What is Scrum? Uncovering Its True Essence

When we ask people in our training sessions, ‘What is Scrum?‘, their explanations often focus on the mechanics of Scrum, outlining the elements of the Scrum Framework and its iterative approach. This is the same as asking about a specific power tool and then being told about its inner workings. However, what we are really interested in is the tool’s purpose, its usefulness, and how is it used properly.

Yet when people are asked about Scrum, they usually start describing the internal workings of Scrum.

In this blog, we aim to provide a high-level overview of ‘What is Scrum?’. We’ll touch on the mechanics of Scrum, but more importantly, we’ll delve into its essence. Understanding Scrum means grasping not only its rules (e.g. Scrum Framework) but also its purpose – how it serves as a valuable tool for product development, enables business agility, and helps us achieve Agile values and principles.

Let’s now dive into the key elements of Scrum, with a focus on the purpose behind these rules, fostering continuous improvement, self-management, and effective problem-solving in complex environments.

In future blogs, we’ll look to further explore the why and benefits of Scrum. Meanwhile, for further insights into common myths about Agile and Scrum, revisit our earlier discussion in ‘Agile and Scrum: Unravelling the Misconceptions‘.

What is Scrum in a Nutshell

Scrum is a lightweight framework designed to enable business agility, helping people, teams, and organisations create value through adaptive solutions for complex challenges. Comparable to a game’s basic rules, it offers a guiding framework without prescribing exact methods for mastery. While its structure is straightforward, its impact is substantial, grounded in experiential learning and decision-making based on tangible results.

At its core, Scrum is about simplicity and intentional incompleteness. When correctly applied, it maximises value and manages risks in product development.

When teams are genuinely practising Professional Scrum, we expect to see signs of

  • Continuous improvement
  • Self-management
  • Value Useable Increment Every Sprint
  • Value-driven & Product Focus
  • High engagement with stakeholders

These elements are indicative of true alignment with Scrum’s principles and values.

To deeply understand Scrum, the Scrum Guide is an essential resource. It defines Scrum as “a lightweight framework that helps people, teams, and organisations generate value through adaptive solutions for complex problems“.

The Core Elements of Scrum

Let’s have a quick recap of the mechanics of Scrum – the Scrum Framework as outlined in the Scrum Guide with these core elements

  • 3 Accountabilities: Product Owner, Scrum Master, and Developers.
  • 5 Events: Sprint, Sprint Planning, Daily Scrum, Sprint Review, Sprint Retrospective.
  • 3 Artifacts: Product Backlog, Sprint Backlog, Increment.
  • 3 Commitments: Product Goal, Sprint Goal, Definition of Done.

Each element of the Framework is crucial in enabling empiricism and fostering self-management, both vital for the effectiveness of Scrum. For instance, Events in the Scrum Framework provide a formal opportunity for inspection and adaptation.

Common questions asked regarding the Scrum Framework are Event timeboxes and Product Backlog Refinement, so let’s clarify those quickly.

Events Are Timeboxed

In Scrum, all events are time-boxed. Timeboxing means that each event has a set duration with a clear endpoint, although participants may leave early if the objectives of the event are achieved. This ensures that events maintain focus, commitment, and effectiveness

For a one-month Sprint, the event timebox lengths are:

  • Sprint Planning: 8 hours.
  • Daily Scrum: 15 minutes.
  • Sprint Review: 4 hours.
  • Sprint Retrospective: 3 hours.

Note that for shorter Sprints, these timeboxes can be reduced accordingly, with the exception of the Daily Scrum.

Product Backlog Refinement is an Activity, Not an Event

Product Backlog Refinement is a continuous and crucial activity within the Scrum framework. Performed by the Scrum Team, this process is integral to ensuring that Product Backlog items are clearly understood, refined, and prepared for upcoming Sprints.

Items at the top of the Product Backlog are brought to a ‘Ready’ state, signifying the team’s clear understanding of their purpose and the feasibility of completing them within a Sprint.

This ongoing refinement process underpins Scrum’s focus on business agility, enabling teams to respond adaptively to complex challenges and continuously deliver value-driven, usable increments in alignment with stakeholder needs and expectations

Principles of Scrum: Empiricism

Scrum is grounded in empiricism, emphasising that knowledge comes from experience and that decision-making is based on observations. In Scrum, teams are engaged in a continuous cycle of learning and adapting, rooted in real-world feedback and experiences.

The three pillars of empiricism – Transparency, Inspection, and Adaptation – guide this process:

  • Transparency: We all know what is going on
  • Inspection: Continuously checking work as you do it.
  • Adaptation: OK to change tactical direction based on the insights gained from inspections

Empiricism in Scrum is a catalyst for ongoing improvement, allowing teams to quickly adapt based on customer feedback, evolve their methods, and effectively navigate risks. This process is pivotal for accelerating product development and delivery, enhancing value and predictability.

Scrum Values: The Lifeblood of the Framework

Central to Scrum are its values – Courage, Focus, Commitment, Respect, and Openness.

These are not mere words; they are the lifeblood of Scrum and enable its effectiveness. Without these values, Scrum becomes a mechanical process, devoid of its true spirit.

Scrum Values - The Lifeblood of the Framework

‘Done’ Increment: The Essence of Scrum

At the heart of Scrum lies the ‘Done’ Increment. This is a non-negotiable element and new teams might find this challenging. Achieving a ‘Done’ Increment every Sprint signifies adherence to Scrum’s principles and commitment to delivering value.

  • Empirical Process Control: The ‘Done’ Increment is crucial for reflecting true progress, much like a thermostat’s reading is essential for temperature regulation.
  • Focus on Quality and Value: Shifting towards delivering high-quality, valuable increments that align with the Definition of Done.
  • Enhancing Transparency and Trust: A consistent ‘Done’ Increment builds transparency and trust, showing real progress and aligning team and stakeholder expectations.

Failing to achieve this ‘Done’ Increment indicates that a team isn’t fully practising Scrum. It signals a need to reassess their approach to truly embrace the framework’s core principles.

To deepen your understanding of the ‘Done’ Increment and its role in enhancing product delivery and team performance, delve into our detailed discussion in ‘Why Product Owners Want a Perfect Definition of Done.’

For guidance on crafting a Definition of Done that aligns with value creation and usability, be sure to check out our blog post ‘Definition of Done: Where to Start?

Scrum: The Thermostat for Product Development

Scrum’s focus on delivering a ‘Done’ Increment is like a thermostat for product development:

  • Empirical Approach: Just like a thermostat uses temperature readings to adjust the environment, Scrum uses the ‘Done’ Increment to guide decision-making. This ensures decisions are based on actual product progress and value.
  • Value Gauge: The ‘Done’ Increment tells us more than just progress; it’s a measure of the product’s value to customers. It’s like checking the temperature to see if adjustments are needed.
  • Informed Decisions: This Increment isn’t just for tracking team progress; it’s crucial for big decisions. Should the team continue as is, change direction, or stop? It’s like using a thermostat’s reading to decide if you need more heating or cooling.

In short, in Scrum, the ‘Done’ Increment helps teams make informed, value-based decisions on what is observed, just as a thermostat helps regulate the room temperature based on the temperature it measures.

Scrum The Thermostat for Product Development

Embracing Self-Management and Continuous Improvement

When effectively implemented, Scrum fosters self-management and continuous improvement. These aspects are intricately woven into Scrum’s fabric, primarily through its framework elements – Events and Accountabilities.

  • Self-Management within Boundaries: The Scrum framework provides clear boundaries through its defined events and accountabilities elements. When these accountabilities are correctly understood and implemented, they create a space for teams to self-organize, make decisions autonomously, and take ownership of their work. Misinterpretation or misuse leads to a breakdown in self-management, undermining the essence of Scrum.
  • Continuous Improvement via Scrum Events: Each Scrum event is purposefully designed to foster an environment of continuous improvement. A specific opportunity for teams to inspect and adapt. If these events are misunderstood or misapplied, the potential for continuous improvement is significantly diminished.

The proper understanding and application of Scrum’s elements are crucial for fostering a true Professional Scrum environment where self-management and continuous improvement are not just ideals but practical realities.

A Mirror, Not a Magic Wand

Scrum isn’t a magic solution that fixes everything. Rather, it serves as a revealing mirror, reflecting the true state of an organisation and its teams. It clearly highlights both strengths and areas needing improvement. Embracing Scrum involves accepting its insights and challenges head-on, resisting the temptation to alter Scrum itself simply because it exposes uncomfortable truths or demands significant change.

  • A Catalyst for Business Agility: Scrum drives adaptability and responsiveness, essential for business agility.
  • Dependent on Organisational Commitment: Success with Scrum hinges on embracing change and learning from failures.
  • Focus on Sustainable Improvement: Scrum emphasizes long-term growth and adaptability for continuous improvement.

Conclusion: Scrum, More Than Just a Framework

To conclude on the question ‘What is Scrum?’, it’s essential to recognise that understanding Scrum can be likened to understanding the rules of a sport like football. While knowing the rules is relatively simple, true mastery is achieved through effectively applying these rules to build an effective and successful team.

In a similar vein, while Scrum may be straightforward in its structure, its real strength is unlocked through the application of its principles and values, along with an awareness of the many complementary practices that can be integrated with Scrum to maximise value delivery.

Merely implementing Scrum as a framework misses the larger point; when correctly executed, it becomes a powerful catalyst for business agility and quality excellence. It’s about employing and comprehending a series of guidelines that foster a more responsive, innovative, and effective way of working. This pursuit of enhancement is continuous and ever-evolving, much like the game of football, where strategies, skills, and teamwork keep evolving and improving.

To improve your proficiency in Scrum, b-agile provides a range of Scrum.org courses to help. These courses are designed to help and reap the benefits of proper application of Professional Scrum:

Other insightful blog posts you may find interesting as read this one:

8 Critical Red Flags Your Kanban Adoption Is Incomplete

8 Critical Red Flags Your Kanban Adoption Is Incomplete

In the context of agile teams and Kanban adoption, I’m reminded of ‘The Princess Bride,’ a classic film where Vizzini frequently exclaims ‘Inconceivable!’ Inigo Montoya famously retorts, ‘You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.’

Much like Vizzini’s misuse of the word ‘Inconceivable,’ many teams often misunderstand or misuse terms like ‘Kanban,’ ‘Scrum,’ and ‘Agile.’ When someone enthusiastically claims, ‘We’re doing Kanban!’ but their actions suggest otherwise, it triggers my own ‘Inigo Montoya moment.’ This is a red flag that indicates incomplete or misunderstood Kanban adoption. Don’t worry; in this article, we delve into common red flags and how to improve.

You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means

Our focus in this blog is helping to have a better understanding and applying Kanban, but if you are reading this you may be interested in our previous blog misconceptions about Agile and Scrum.

Red Flags of Incomplete Kanban Adoption

Before diving into the key practices and metrics that make Kanban effective, let’s first explore some telltale signs that indicate Kanban adoption isn’t fully embraced within a team:

  1. Board without Policies: A board without Work In Progress (WIP) limits or explicit policies isn’t a Kanban. Implementing WIP limits establishes a pull-based system, which enhances both workflow and visualization.
  2. Ignored or Unused Metrics: Kanban goes beyond task visualization. Metrics like Cycle Time and Throughput provide transparency and form a basis for improvement.
  3. Neglected Key Charts: Cumulative Flow Diagrams (CFD) and Cycle Time Scatterplots aren’t mere decorations. They offer insights into workflow and guide improvement discussions.
  4. Not Prioritizing High Priority Items: Kanban values focusing on value. Teams should prioritize high-value work and consider swarming on tasks for faster completion.
  5. Queued Work Mismanagement: Too many tasks waiting, especially in testing, signals batching and inefficiency.
  6. Stalled Work Items: Items lingering without progress reveal bottlenecks.
  7. Infrequent Flow Discussions: Regular discussions about flow are vital. Stagnant items without discussions hinder improvement.
  8. Ignoring Feedback Loops: Kanban’s philosophy emphasizes continuous improvement through feedback loops. Ignoring feedback hampers the process.
8 Red Flags Your Kanban Adoption Is Incomplete

Discovering Kanban’s Fundamental Principles

To truly embrace the essence of Kanban, it’s pivotal to grasp and apply its foundational principles. These principles not only serve as the cornerstone for the advanced practices and key metrics we’ll explore later but also guide the overarching philosophy behind Kanban.

Kanban Core Practices:

Now that we’ve touched on why the basic principles of Kanban are such a big deal, let’s get into the nitty-gritty—the core practices that make Kanban really click and help your team flow more smoothly.

  • Visualizing the Workflow: Use visual boards or digital tools to clarify your workflow. This includes both the workflow states and policies. This transparency enhances team understanding of their current state, prompts the right conversations at the right time, and suggests opportunities for improvement. For insight into one effective method of workflow visualization, see our blog post on value stream mapping.
  • Limiting Work in Progress (WIP):  This practice creates a pull system and without it, you do not have flow – you simply have stickies on a wall! Maintain and optimise flow by setting WIP limits for each workflow stage. This can encourage team swarming and encourage a steady, manageable flow of work items (value) through the workflow.
  • Active Management of Work Items in Progress: Monitor and manage the flow of work items across the workflow to minimize bottlenecks and delays. Regularly assessing the flow ensures a consistent and smooth progression of items.
  • Inspecting and Adapting: Continuously evaluate your workflow and policies. Embrace a culture of learning by seeking improvements based on data and feedback. Adaptation is key to optimizing your Definition of Workflow.

For those eager to master these practices, our Kanban course offers an immersive learning experience that guides you through practical applications and real-world scenarios.

Key Kanban Metrics

Foundational practices pave the way, and key metrics provide actionable insights:

  • Work in Progress (WIP): Transparently track work started but not finished, reflecting progress and flow improvement.
  • Cycle Time: Measure time from work item start to finish.
  • Work Item Age: Measure time from work item start to the current time (applies to items in progress).
  • Throughput: Measure completed work items per unit of time.

Additionally, Service Level Expectations (SLEs) offer insights into completion times. While not primary, SLEs aid workflow inspection and adaptation.

Insights through Kanban Charts

Beyond practices and key metrics, there are pivotal charts that serve as visual aids for improved transparency and deeper insights into your workflow.

  • Cycle Time Scatterplot: Visualizes task duration and variability, aiding in identifying patterns and outliers.
  • Cumulative Flow Diagram (CFD): Displays work volume across stages, pinpointing bottlenecks and accumulation points.
  • Throughput Run Chart: Plots completed items over time, tracking productivity trends.
  • Work Item Age Chart: Highlights time spent by tasks in the workflow, aiding in identifying areas of delay.

When you get the hang of these charts, you’ll start seeing your workflow in a whole new light. You’ll spot where you can do better and make smarter choices that really line up with what Kanban is all about

Unleashing the Power of Kanban

By avoiding the common pitfalls mentioned earlier and embracing Kanban wholeheartedly, you unlock substantial advantages for your team. These benefits range from smoother workflows to data-driven decision-making. Let’s delve into what you stand to gain

  • Enhanced Flow and Reduced Delays: Attain smoother workflows & faster feedback loops.
  • Data-Driven Decision Making: Optimize processes and enhance predictability.
  • Increase Productivity: Emphasize the delivery of value in the shortest timeframe
  • Continuous Improvement: Implement a process for ongoing enhancements.
  • Enhanced Transparency: Foster improved team collaboration and clearer progress tracking.

Interactive Learning with Kanban Simulation

No matter your experience level with Kanban – be it a beginner or seasoned veteran – simulations can offer valuable insights to enhance your understanding.

A top pick for us is the online simulation, TWIG: The WIP Game. This interactive simulation lets you tinker with Kanban flow and witness firsthand how your decisions impact work items. It’s a fantastic way to translate theory into practice and grasp how various elements interact in a live workflow.

twig - the online wip game

But don’t just stop at online simulations. Physical Kanban games bring something different to the table. One of their strong suits is they require you to calculate metrics and sketch out your own graphs. This hands-on interaction often helps participants gain insights that automated online tools might gloss over.

Here are some top picks for physical Kanban games:

  • GetKanban Board Game: This game focuses on flow, bottlenecks, and how to improve continuously. It’s a team experience and a great learning tool.
  • Featureban: Aimed at software teams, this game teaches you how to visualize work and manage flow.
  • TWIG: The WIP Game (Physical Version): Similar to its online version, this physical game is perfect for team workshops.
  • Kanban Pizza Game: As the name suggests, this game simulates a pizza-making process. It’s a fun way to grasp concepts like WIP limits and cycle time.

Each of these physical games has unique features to help you understand variables like WIP limits and bottlenecks.

In Summary

In the spirit of ‘The Princess Bride,’ it’s crucial to ensure that we fully understand what we mean when we use terms like ‘Kanban,’ ‘Scrum,’ and ‘Agile.’ Much like Inigo Montoya’s famous line, it’s worth reexamining our preconceptions and enhancing our understanding through continuous learning and practice.

In this blog, we’ve dug into the red flags of incomplete Kanban adoption, explored its core practices, and highlighted the metrics that matter. But learning Kanban isn’t just about reading; it’s about doing. That’s why we recommend interactive online simulations like “TWIG: The WIP Game”, which lets you experiment and see how your choices affect a live workflow.

For those who crave a deeper dive, physical Kanban games like GetKanban or Featureban offer an alternative way to internalize these principles. Calculating metrics and drawing your own graphs provide a unique learning experience that digital tools often skip over.

If this has piqued your interest and you’re keen on going the extra mile to improve your understanding of Kanban, our Professional Scrum with Kanban (PSK) courses could be your next step.

Feel like this blog could help someone else? Don’t hesitate to share. Have thoughts or questions? We’re all ears—just drop a comment below.

Agile and Scrum: Unravelling the Misconceptions

Agile and Scrum

As a Scrum.org trainer, we often come across common misconceptions about Agile and Scrum. The red flags we hear of misalignment and misconceptions when exploring folk’s current understanding and definition of Agile and Scrum.  Here are a few but certainly not an exhaustive list:

Agile:

  • Agile is a methodology.
  • A focus on agile tools and practices, yet no understanding of the why, the mindset, and achieving business agility.
  • Neglect on customer collaboration and feedback.
  • Neglect on self-organisation and enabling cross-functional teams.
  • Agile eliminates the need for planning or documentation.
  • Resistance to change and sticking to current/traditional processes.

Scrum:

  • Scrum is a methodology.
  • Scrum is an agile project management delivery system 
  • Scrum is breaking work down into small tasks to be delivered faster.
  • A focus on features being delivered rather than the value being delivered (e.g. Feature Factory)
  • No Valuable Usable (Done) increment at the end of each Sprint.
  • No validation happens once an increment (product) is released to the market.
  • Unaware of the true purpose of the Sprint Review and Sprint Retrospective.
  • Scrum is applicable for software development only.

These misconceptions underscore the importance of developing a comprehensive understanding of Agile and Scrum beyond superficial practices. It’s essential to recognize that Agile is all about fostering business agility. In other words, to adapt and respond to change to deliver value in a fast-moving customer-centric market. Without a solid grasp of this crucial concept, the true essence of Agile and Scrum might remain elusive.

In this blog, we look to explore and clear up some common misunderstandings about Agile and Scrum, which we hear in our Scum training. We’ll review some key concepts to help to dispel any confusion. And give you enough to have a far better understanding of the core concepts and help smash those misconceptions into touch.

In our experience, we have found these misconceptions about Agile and Scrum can really hinder the benefits they can bring. So, if you have any of these misconceptions, then this going to help.

Let’s dive in and start with Understanding Agile first.

What is Agile?

Agile refers to a mindset, not a set of procedures or tools. In 2001 the Agile Manifesto for Software Development was introduced to encapsulate a new way of thinking with 4 values and 12 principles on how to deliver software products better. Although it had its roots in software development, its values and principles have since expanded to cover various areas beyond just software development.


At the heart of Agile lies a value-driven approach, putting customer satisfaction front and centre. Its main goal is to deliver high-quality products, or services, effectively and efficiently to the market so we can get feedback (validation) from customers. Agile deeply understands the significance of creating real value for customers and strives to align all efforts with their needs.

The Agile Onion

To help understand Agile better and its real purpose, we find it useful to explore the Agile Onion. This helps give us a visual representation that really encapsulates the essence of Agile. It highlights that Agile is not merely about tools or practices, but involves a deep-rooted shift in thinking and behaviour.

Agile Onion

The Agile Onion comprises of five interconnected layers:

  • Tools and Processes: The most visible, yet least influential aspects of Agile when applied in isolation. Examples are Jira, Azure, Whiteboards & Sticky Notes, etc.
  • Practices: Specific practices used in an Agile environment. These become effective when they align with Agile principles and values. Examples are Scrum, Kanban, XP, Story Mapping, etc
  • Principles: The guiding rules derived from the Agile Manifesto which prioritize aspects like valuing individuals and interactions, and embracing change. For example, committing to finishing work before starting, release early and often, etc.
  • Values: The foundational beliefs that build an Agile culture, include trust, respect, courage, and equal voice.
  • Mindset: The innermost layer of the onion is the Agile mindset. It’s about fostering a collaborative and transparent environment and promoting adaptability.


Understanding the Agile Onion helps us surpass the allure of cool tools and practices. While they can be important enablers, the essence of Agile lies in its outer rings—the principles and values that drive mindset and behaviour. Embracing these principles and values is key to unlocking the full potential of Agile in your organization and teams. In other words, start with the “Mindset” and work inward.

Agile Misconceptions

One of the major misconceptions we hear too often is that Agile is a methodology or a project management approach. However, Agile is neither. It is a mindset underlined by the values and principles that shape the way we work and interact, with a product-oriented and outcome-driven approach over a project-oriented and output-driven one.

The agile mindset is to focus on delivering value to customers, collaborating with stakeholders, and embracing change. It encourages iterative and incremental development, continuous improvement, and cross-functional teamwork.

We’ll dig deeper later into the relationship between Agile and Scrum. But what we can say, is that Scrum is one approach (practice) that can help teams implement those Agile values and principles effectively.

Agile vs Waterfall

Agile and Waterfall represent two different approaches. Waterfall follows a linear and sequential design process where progress is seen as flowing steadily downwards, like a waterfall. In contrast, Agile promotes iterative and incremental development, where requirements and solutions evolve through the collaborative effort of self-organizing cross-functional teams. This iterative approach allows for small experiments and frequent feedback loops, enabling teams to continuously learn, adapt, and deliver value.

The Agile approach is like a speed boat, agile and swift, able to change direction quickly and seize new opportunities. On the other hand, Waterfall is like an oil tanker – once the course is set, it’s hard to change direction swiftly.

Need further help in understanding Agile and exploring how it can benefit your organization and teams?

The Professional Agile Leadership Essentials course could help provide a deeper insight into agile and how agile leadership can support agile (scrum) teams to help enable the shift for organisations, and teams, towards an agile mindset.  Understand what you measure matters! This is what can really drive culture change in your organisation.

What is Scrum?

“Scrum is a lightweight framework that helps people, teams and organizations generate value through adaptive solutions for complex problems.”

Scrum Guide 2020

The Scrum framework is a lightweight framework that consists of 11 essential elements, the artefact commitments, and the rules that bind them as per the Scrum Guide.

The elements of the Scrum Framework are grouped by accountabilities, artefacts, and events:

Accountabilities: Product Owner, Scrum Master, Developers

Artifacts: Product Backlog, Sprint Backlog, Increment

Events: Sprint, Sprint Planning, Daily Scrum, Sprint Review, Sprint Retrospective

In addition, Scrum identifies specific commitments to ensure focus, transparency, and alignment, which are the Product Goal, Sprint Goal, and Definition of Done.

The Scrum values of Commitment, Focus, Openness, Respect, and Courage underpin the Scrum framework. They shape the behaviour and mindset of the Scrum Team, promoting collaboration, transparency, and adaptability.

Scrum does not prescribe specific complementary practices, allowing teams to incorporate other techniques and methods as necessary. This provides flexibility for teams to select practices that best suit their context and work environment.

Think of Scrum as the rules of the game, like football. Every football team plays the game of football differently. Yet all the teams have to play to the rules of the game.

In football, if you picked the ball up and you started running with it and the team allowed you to score, then great. But it is no longer football. Same as if you started changing the rules of Scrum (e.g. drop a Scrum Event or accountability), then fine but stop calling it Scrum. It is no longer Scrum.

Scrum provides the rules of the game via a lightweight framework. Implement the framework as outlined in the Scrum Guide, but what you do in the middle (e.g., the complementary practices you choose to use or not) is entirely up to you. Scrum essentially gives you a foundation to handle complexity, embrace continuous improvement (empiricism), and achieve valuable outcomes. It is purposefully incomplete to allow for flexibility and creativity in how you play the game.

Yet Scrum is more than just its mechanics; it’s a path to realising Agile values and driving business agility. Ever wondered about the deeper purpose of Scrum’s rules and how they foster continuous improvement and valuable outcomes? Dive into these insights and more in our latest blog, ‘What is Scrum: Uncovering Its True Essence‘. It’s a compact guide to understanding the true purpose and transformative potential of Scrum.

Scrum Misconceptions

Despite its popularity, several misconceptions about Scrum persist. One common misconception is that Scrum is a methodology or a process for product management. As mentioned above its none of these.  It’s a light framework to help you embrace empiricism and self-organisation!

Scrum isn’t about promising a faster product development cycle as its main goal. Instead, it’s all about empowering teams with empirical process control, continuous improvement, and the ability to adapt effectively to change. But the real magic happens when teams fully embrace the Scrum values of Commitment, Focus, Openness, Respect, and Courage. These values create an incredible environment of collaboration, transparency, and adaptability, forming the bedrock of successful teamwork that feels truly rewarding and effective.

To obtain a great understanding of Scrum, then recommend reading the Scrum Guide. Read it several times and analyse each section. It’s an invaluable resource that will give you profound insights into how Professional Scrum should function.

Challenges of Implementing Scrum

Implementing Scrum and consistently delivering a “Done” increment every Sprint can be the biggest challenge for teams yet the most important, especially in the context of software product development. While the Scrum Guide emphasizes the importance of empiricism and the Definition of Done, it does not provide specific instructions on how to achieve a “Done” increment.  If you asked me to sum up Scrum as one thing, then it would be to have a Done (Valuable and Usable) Increment every Sprint. Yet so many so-called Scrum teams don’t have this?

To address this challenge, teams often need additional support and complementary practices that align with Scrum principles. These practices may include continuous integration, test automation, code reviews, pair programming, and other engineering practices that promote quality and enable frequent delivery of potentially shippable increments.

Our Scrum.org certified course, Applying Professional Scrum for Software Development, is designed to support teams in gaining the knowledge and skills to address this challenge. At a hands-on course where teams learn and experience industry practices and techniques that can enhance their ability to deliver a quality “Done” increment at the end of every Sprint.

How Scrum Incorporates Agile Principles and Values

Scrum is a light framework that enables teams to embrace Agile principles and values. Its events and accountabilities are specifically designed to uphold and enforce these principles and values. By embracing Scrum, teams can foster a culture of collaboration and self-organisation, transparency, and continuous improvement.

Scrum is a light framework that enables teams to embrace Agile principles and values. Its events and accountabilities are specifically designed to uphold and enforce these principles and values. By embracing Scrum, teams can foster a culture of collaboration and self-organisation, transparency, and continuous improvement.

One of the key principles of Agile is continuous improvement, and Scrum provides a dedicated event to support this principle.  One example is the Sprint Retrospective event. During this event, the Scrum Team reflects on its process, practices, Tools, Definition of Done etc to identify areas for improvement, and commits to making adjustments in the next Sprint. This event promotes a culture of learning, adaptation, and relentless improvement.

By teams embracing Professional Scrum and leveraging events and Scrum accountabilities, teams can start to harness the power of Agile principles and values to deliver value more effectively, adapt to changing requirements, and continuously improve their processes and outcomes.

Agile and Scrum

Understanding the Relationship

Agile is a way of working with a set of underlying values and principles that promotes an iterative and incremental approach to product development. It promotes flexibility, collaboration, and customer satisfaction through the continuous delivery of valuable solutions.

Scrum, on the other hand, is a lightweight framework for teams to implement. Scrum incorporates the 3 pillars of empiricism (transparency, inspection and, adaption), Scrum Values, and self-organization to enable teams to respond effectively to deliver high-quality products continuously in a fast-changing market.

Scrum is based on empirical process control, where decisions are made based on observation and feedback, enabling teams to continuously improve their work. Scrum aligns with Agile principles by promoting iterative development, frequent inspections, and continuous adaptation. It provides a framework that empowers teams to embrace Agile values and deliver value incrementally.

Scrum is a widely adopted framework, but it is not the only way to practice Agile. There are other agile approaches such as Kanban, Lean, and Extreme Programming (XP). Each with its own set of principles and practices but they’re all aligned with helping to achieve the agile principles & mindset.

Understanding the relationship between Agile and Scrum helps teams choose the right approach for them for their context and needs. The key is to embrace the Agile principles and values.

Which Came First: Scrum or Agile?

A trivial question I know, but it can help appreciate the connection. Many say Agile came first but Scrum, developed in 1995, predates the formation of the Agile Manifesto in 2001. Interestingly, the creators of Scrum, Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland, were among the founding signatories of the Agile Manifesto.

Summary

Embracing the Agile mindset, values, and principles is key to unlocking the full potential of Scrum and driving successful Agile transformations

Navigating the world of Agile and Scrum can be challenging, but by dispelling misconceptions and gaining valuable insights, we can embrace the fundamental concepts. Agile is a mindset that shapes how we work. Understanding the relationship between Agile and Scrum helps us choose the right approach, fostering collaboration, flexibility, and customer-centricity in product development.

To move towards an agile mindset, we should focus on:

  1. Focusing on the Agile Values & Principles: Understanding the Agile values and principles as per outlined in the Agile Manifesto. These are the foundation for adopting an agile mindset.
  2. Defining clear goals: Clearly defining goals and aligning them with the values and principles of agility helps teams stay focused and motivated.
  3. Embracing change and learning cycles: Agile teams embrace change as an opportunity for growth and learning. They adopt iterative and incremental approaches to development, allowing for feedback and adaptation.
  4. Promoting collaboration and teamwork: Agile teams prioritize collaboration and effective teamwork. They encourage cross-functional collaboration, knowledge sharing, and collective ownership of deliverables.
  5. Fostering an open and learning-oriented culture: Agile teams create an environment that encourages learning, experimentation, and continuous improvement. They value feedback, encourage learning from failures, and celebrate successes.

Scrum may help you achieve some of these.

If you are looking for further help with your understanding of Scrum and Agile, there are a range of certified courses and coaching services we can offer to help:

  1. Certified Courses: Explore our full list of certified courses. Yet the key ones that could help are:
    • Our Agile Leadership course empowers leaders and managers with the knowledge and skills to drive organizational agility, foster a culture of innovation, and enhance customer satisfaction. 
    • Our Professional Scrum Master course provides a deep understanding of Scrum and Scrum Mastery to support teams and organizations in applying Scrum.
  2. Agile Coaching Services: We provide Agile coaching services to help organizations embrace a new way of working and cultivate business agility. Our experienced Agile coaches offer personalized guidance and support to teams in their Agile journey and help them achieve their Agile transformation goals. With a focus on collaboration, adaptability, and continuous improvement, our coaching empowers teams to navigate the complexities of Agile and drive successful outcomes.

We hope you enjoyed the read and help provide some clarity and guidance.

If you have any questions or would like us to explore any concepts further, then please let us know in the comments.

Author:

Alex is an experienced Developer, Scrum Master, and Technical Agile Coach trainer at b-agile. With extensive firsthand experience, he firmly believes in the significance of learning from practitioners who have put the theory into practice, enabling them to incorporate valuable insights from both their failures and successes in their application.