“Guiding Principles” are the set of values and propositions that form the foundation of any principle, theory, framework or business.
They outline those principles that were responsible for a particular framework or business to come into being because the creator(s) wanted to make sure these principles were being implemented and kept in mind by the followers, practitioners or future leaders.
Guiding principles exist and are necessary for every great and useful idea that ever existed.
In this post, I want to share with you the guiding principles that were the source of creation for Scrum and Agile.
While the guiding principles for them were issued by two different groups trying to solve two different problems that existed in the engineering world, their thoughts converged at the same point. And that is where I intend to pick up the thread from.
So that, you as a reader get to know what exactly Scrum alliance and Agile Manifesto team wanted us [The engineers, managers, product owners etc.] to follow from its soul even though our implementation in execution might differ from project to project.
With this thought in mind, I present to you the Guiding Principles of Scrum and Agile.
Guiding Principles of Scrum:
1) Courage: Surprised? I can understand if you are. You might have expected something more technical as a guiding principle and here it sounds like some armed forces training manual!
Here there is no twist in the definition of “Courage”. It remains same as the one outlined in Oxford dictionary.
Courage is the willingness to take on a difficult seemingly impossible challenge and commit to oneself about its completion towards success.
As a Scrum team, taking on a journey to deliver a product or solution has the fearlessness to take on something that has not been solved yet needs “courage”.
2) Focus: The Scrum team has to remain focused on the end goal they have set out to achieve. Never during their journey are they supposed to waver from that goal.
No amount of technical discussions, blockers, challenges etc. will be able to deviate the Scrum team from its goal.
3) Commitment: Scrum teams promise to deliver and adhere to the goal they have set out to achieve. No matter what the challenge or technical blockers that might come; the team will ensure they deliver what they have promised.
The team will always make sure that they deliver what they have promised. This where Courage, Focus, and commitment converge.
The team will be brave enough to promise to deliver what has not been attempted so far and will be unwavering in its approach to deliver what has been promised.
4) Respect: Mutual respect is a very important pillar of any team and no great thing was ever achieved until the team members had mutual respect for each other.
Since Scrum team has already set out to achieve the unimaginable, mutual respect gains all the more importance in the given scenario. How can a team achieve something great if team members do not get along well and trust each other to deliver their assigned tasks to the best of their abilities?
Hence, mutual respect for each other’s capabilities, expertise and shortcomings is an essential part of the Scrum team.
5) Openness:Ask yourself, what is the importance of free, fair and open communication between the team members of a team that wants to achieve the unthinkable with complete focus on delivering the commitment and that too without any official or full-time leader to guide them?
You would have gotten the answer yourself by now!
So this is what Scrum alliance had in mind when they created the idea of Scrum teams for the first time.
Now, let us review the Agile Manifesto and then let’s tie them together into a meaningful picture for us to guide us throughout our project execution.
The Agile Manifesto in my own words
The Agile team will always ensure and strive to satisfy its customers [whether internal or external] through early and continuous delivery of valuable work i.e. every Sprint will deliver something of value to the customer.
Break big work down into smaller components and hence, Agile team will ensure success by conquering small and continuous pieces of puzzle.
An Agile team will recognize that the best work emerges if the team is self-organizing i.e. the team will proactively take responsibility and act to solve the problems and deliver value without any need for formal guidance at all times.
The product owners and sponsors will provide the motivated Agile team with all the requirements, environment and support as needed.
The product owners will not constantly interfere with the team’s functioning but will always trust them to get the job done.
The Agile team will create processes that will enable the team to work in the form of sustainable efforts.
Agile teams will ensure that they maintain a reasonable and constant velocity towards their end goals without putting extra pressure on resources. The reasonable velocity ensures sustainable growth and provides good amount of visibility to project owners for forecasting.
Agile team will never say no to changing requirements and will accommodate them even late in the game.
The Agile team and its business owners will meet together on daily basis for not more than a quick check of their progress towards the end goal by measuring the value delivered till last night. The meeting came to be known as Scrum meeting when Scrum became the most preferred way to implement Agile.
At regular intervals the team will meet to review the mistakes committed along the way and fix them so as to not repeat them again. This came to be knowns as Sprint retrospective.
The Agile team will be careful to not confuse velocity with Value and will measure the daily progress towards the committed goal with value generated till date.
The Agile team will continue to drive itself to improve towards excellence.
The Agile team will be open to the upcoming changes in business scenarios, technologies and evolving thought process for competitive advantage.
How these guiding principles should lead us to success
If we spend some time with ourselves and think about the guiding principles that we just now discussed then we see an evolving pattern here.
Any team that vows to become an Agile team aiming to deliver excellent products in an iterative fashion using Scrum as its execution tool should have their basic morals right in the place in form of commitment, focus, respect and openness to accept each other. That team should have willingness to improve, to learn from its mistakes, always keep its customer in the sight and knowing that it is the customer they are out to serve, so accepting changes is a part of their program. This is a team that also smartly understands the need to continuously deliver value on a regular basis but at the same time ensures and plans in a way to maintain harmonious balance between work and other aspects of life through reasonable sustainable velocity and supporting processes to help deliver.
With these words of interpretation, I hereby invite you to rethink your Agile execution in project and wish you all the best for a better life, better products and better relationships.
All the best!
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PMP, has 12+ years of experience working in Information technology sector and has worked with companies like Infosys and Microsoft in various capacities. He started his career as a manual tester for a world renowned software product and grew on to become automation champion in both functional as well as UI. He has worked with Healthcare units providing various software solutions to companies in North America and has worked with search engine based groups to enhance their experience and provide more bang for buck to their customers.
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