Scrum 101: Learn the basics crystal clear.

Scrum is a framework within which people can address complex adaptive problems, while productively and creatively delivering products of the highest possible value.

Scrum employs an iterative and incremental approach to optimize predictability and control risk!

Introduction

Scrum is a lightweight framework that helps people, teams and organizations generate value through adaptive solutions for complex problems. Scrum co-creators Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland have written The Scrum Guide to explain Scrum clearly and succinctly.

In a nutshell, Scrum requires a Scrum Master to foster an environment where:

  1. A Product Owner orders the work for a complex problem into a Product Backlog.
  2. The Scrum Team turns a selection of the work into an Increment of value during a Sprint.
  3. The Scrum Team and its stakeholders inspect the results and adjust for the next Sprint.
  4. Repeat

Scrum Framework

3 pillars of Scrum!
  • Transparency: Transparency in Scrum can be realized by scrum tools such as:
    — Product Backlog
    — Task Boards and Burn-down charts
    — Daily Stand-ups, Retrospectives, Definition of done, Sprint Reviews and etc.
  • Inspection: Scrum artifacts must be frequently inspected and progress towards a goal to detect undesirable variances. Inspection in Scrum can be realized by scrum activities such as:
    — Using a common scrum board
    — Prioritizing the product backlog
    — Conducting release planning processes
  • Adaption: In Agile world, we always embrace and Adapt changes, so that we can constantly improve. Adaptation means that we change what does not work or what could work better. It means that we constantly run small experiments, keep what is working and change when we fail. We use the results from our inspections to decide which experiment to run next, for example:
    — Daily stand-up ceremony
    — Sprint review
    — Sprint retrospective

Summary of 3 pillars: In Scrum, decisions are made based on observation and experimentation rather than on detailed upfront planning. Empirical process control relies on the three main ideas of transparency, inspection, and adaptation. This means that of the outcomes of a project should:

  • Giving visibility to the significant aspects of the process to those responsible for the outcome.
  • Timely checks of the progress toward a sprint goal to detect undesirable variances
  • Adjusting a process as soon as possible to minimize any further deviation or issues.
Accountabilities of Scrum!
  • The Product Owner is accountable for the value and the success of the product in the market, looking outwards at possibilities and opportunities in the market. This goes beyond just managing the Product Backlog or requirements engineering. It requires entrepreneurship, imagination and long term vision because a well managed and a well written Product Backlog does not guarantee product’s success.
  • Developers are accountable for delivering quality usable product every single Sprint. Otherwise, how can the Product Owner maximize value without anything usable shipped to the customer? The developers should forget about silos and should start looking into continuous delivery practices or DevOps practices to make this happen. This requires discipline and technical excellence.
  • The Scrum Master is accountable for effectiveness on those value delivery by spreading awesomeness, removing impediments and improving the capability of the whole organization in value delivery through coaching, training and mentoring. And of course this goes beyond team level only. It needs to be throughout the whole company because Scrum Teams don’t work in isolation. This requires systems thinking and true leadership instead of babysitting. If the Product Owner is focused on looking outwards, the Scrum Master is focused on looking inwards, finding possibilities to improve the organization capability to deliver value effectively.

The Product Owner, Developers and Scrum Master are accountable for specific areas which requires specific skill-sets and at the same time they need to collaborate together so maximum value can be delivered effectively. None can be underestimated. They’re all important and integral to the effectiveness of value delivery. The overall organization agility really depends on how the people with these three accountabilities collaborate with one another.

Values of Scrum!

The Scrum values provide a code of behavior, or ethics, for Scrum teams.

Teams that follow the Scrum processes but do not demonstrate the Scrum values will be less effective as their events will be less productive and the teams are likely to become dysfunctional.

  • Courage: Scrum team members have courage to do right thing and work on though problems such as have the courage to ask for a help.
  • Focus: Everyone focuses on the work of the sprint and the goals of the scrum team such as focus on achieving the sprint goal.
  • Commitment: People personally commit to achieving the goals of the scrum team such as commit to doing your best.
  • Respect: Scrum team members respect each other to be capable, independent people such as respect each other’s time by being punctual.
  • Openness: The scrum team and its stakeholders agree to be open about all the work and the challenges with performing the work such as be open to other team member’s opinions.
  • Daily Scrum: A is a 15-minute time-boxed event for the Development Team to synchronize activities and create a plan for the next 24 hours (Feedback Loop).
    — Time-box: 15 Minutes
    — Mandatory Attendance: Developers
    — Optional Attendance: Everyone (No Participation)
  • Sprint Planning: A time-boxed event occurs at the beginning of a sprint where the team determines the product backlog items they will work on during that sprint.
    — Time-box: 8 Hours
    — Mandatory Attendance: Scrum Team
    — Optional Attendance: Everyone (No Participation)
  • Sprint Review: A time-boxed event holds at the end of the Sprint to inspect the Increment and adapt the Product Backlog if needed (Feedback Loop).
    — Time-box: 4 Hours
    — Mandatory Attendance: Scrum Team, Key Stakeholders
    — Optional Attendance: Other Stakeholders
  • Sprint Retrospective: A time-boxed event for providing an opportunity for the Scrum Team to inspect itself and create a plan for improvements to be enacted during the next Sprint (Feedback Loop).
    — Time-box: 3 Hours
    — Mandatory Attendance: Scrum Team
    — Optional Attendance: Team Invite Only

Scrum Artifacts provide key information that the Scrum team and the stakeholders need to be aware of for understanding the product under development, the activities being planned, and the activities done in the project. The following artifacts are defined in Scrum Process Framework.

  • Product Backlog
    — Product Goal (Commitment)
  • Sprint Backlog
    — Sprint Goal (Commitment)
  • Increment
    — DoD (Commitment)
  • Product Vision
  • Sprint Goal
  • Definition of Done
  • Burn-Down Chart
  • Burn-Down Chart
  • Other required artifacts…

Note That: These are the most common artifacts in a scrum project and project artifacts are not limited by these.

Quick Questions

In this part, some very important and critical questions are provided to improve our Scrum knowledge!

  • Sprint ends:
    — When time-box expires.
    — Next one starts immediately.
    — There are no activities between sprints.
  • Developer membership change?
    — As needed with short term reduction in productivity.
  • Too much work?
    — Collaborate with PO, change SBL.
    — Discuss in Retro.
  • A developer is toxic:
    — Self managing developers remove that member.
  • Burn-down charts:
    — Work remaining across time.
  • Items ordered by:
    — Importance (Value)
  • Tester? Quality?
    — No tester role.
    — Everyone is responsible for quality.
  • Product owner:
    — Owns / orders product backlog.
    — Value optimizer.
  • Security features:
    — Add to product backlog.
    — Add to DoD.
  • Sprint cancellation:
    — When sprint goal become obsolete.
    — Only PO can cancel a sprint.

Here are open assessments from scrum.org, they provide awesome opportunity to test your Scrum knowledge and skills! Moreover, you can get certificate from scrum.org to proof your professionalism in Scrum!

Conclusion

In this post, we’ll learn the basics of Scrum framework! Basically, Scrum is a lightweight framework that helps people, teams and organizations generate value through adaptive solutions for complex problems! And, all of the important and basic features of this framework explained in this post. You can check the official Scrum guide to reach more information!

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