Scrum Values

Updates to the Scrum Guide – The 5 Scrum values take center stage

Today Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland, the creators of Scrum delivered a webinar on their latest update to the Scrum Guide.  The update was a simple one, adding the 5 values of Scrum to the Guide. And when I say simple I mean simple in terms of the text changes to the Scrum Guide, not simple in terms of what it means to the community and people practicing Scrum. In fact, far from it. By making the Scrum values explicit and transparent it may call your teams working approach into question.  But ultimately these values provide value (pun intended). In fact, I would go as far as to say that these values amplify the power of Scrum by providing a compass for decision making and team dynamics. The Scrum values help teams adopt Scrum and deliver amazing software for their customers.  And, they also create a great place to work. Which, in this hyper competitive employment market is not a bad thing either.

Scrum Values

The diagram depicts the 5 values; Courage, Commitment, Focus, Openness, and Respect. In this blog I do not want to repeat in detail a definition of each. Gunther Verheyen did a fantastic job describing these values in his blog . Instead I want to focus on why these values that may appear obvious, are actually really difficult to adopt in most ‘traditional’ organizations. I also want to describe some very simple, regular practices that can help you and your team use the values for your day-to-day work.

To remind everyone what the values are in the context of the Scrum Guide.

Scrum values from scrum guide

These values sound easy? Well, there are many misunderstandings and common problems when applying these values. Here are some examples.

Value Misunderstanding Getting the value right
Commitment Committing to something that you don’t understand because you are told to by your boss. Committing yourself to the team and Sprint Goal.
Focus Focusing on keeping the customer happy Being focused on the sprint and its goal.
Openness Telling everyone everything about all your work Highlighting when you have challenges and problems that are stopping you from success
Respect Thinking you are helping the team by being a hero Helping people to learn the things that you are good at and not judging the things that others aren’t good at.
Courage Even after the decision has been made continuing to push back Being transparent, but willing to change even if that means accepting that you are wrong, or that your opinion is not the direction that the team is going.

Values like anything in Scrum need to be both visible and inspected and adapted on. These are five ideas from my own experience for encouraging the values to be transparent and considered in your Scrum Team:

  1. Put the values on a wall and have each team member write up how they are going to demonstrate the value in their working day.
  2. Add a ‘values moment’ to your retrospective. This gives everyone an opportunity to inspect and adapt on their values.
  3. Introduce a ‘values’ prize. Not a serious prize, but a fun prize that sometimes can be delivered to two people or the whole team when a value has been demonstrated and everyone is aware of it.
  4. The ‘whoops we dropped the value’ prize provides a way of demonstrating courage, but also highlighting when we missed a value. Of course, this prize could end up being a very negative thing so it should always be delivered in a fun way without negative implications.
  5. Getting external managers or stakeholders to demonstrate to the team a value and what it means to them.


  • Anurag Jain

    team has to be motivated right by the leader, rest all follows………. whatever needs to be done to motivate the team for the job, has to be done. supplemented by the right resources, which has to arranged by management in most of the cases,

    • Steven Fox

      People cannot motivate others. You can achieve compliance and urgency but not motivation, motivation is internal.

      The best you can do is create conditions under which motivation is likely to emerge.

      You may enjoy Herzbergs Motivation Hygiene theory.

      • Anurag Jain

        Dear Steven,
        i have my own experiences, and have motivated and form winning teams out of rejected employees in my life……….. believe me, it is a hygene factor for any team to excel

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  • Test Heurre

    Their no way to measure those things, and the prize idea is counter productive. Scrumm is not always adapt to all situations, do keep think that it is the Grall of organization. Be always focus on short term not let you see the future problem that you can avoid in advance if you take some time to let your head think in global. I am not agree to talk only about our problem, it is also good for team to talk about solution found when solve a problem. And sorry but only idiots work for a fun prize or work for avoid to have a negative one.

  • Bas Vermeulen

    Let me add a positive comment here 😉 I like the new values and their explanation in the scrum guide a lot. Much like the values in the Agile Manifesto you can point at these officially accepted values and shortcut endless discussions by saying something like:

    “Listen, we should respond to change instead of following the original plan – we need to adjust this design and do some rework to make the product suit the user better.”

    Or, now with the official Values: “Refer to the Respect value, team members are capable independent people, so stop blaming team members when they once in a while mess up their code, its in the Scrum Guide!”.

    Indeed Scrum is not the (holy) Grail, but having inspired people applying Scrum correctly certainly come very close to it.

    And apparently I work with ‘idiots’ (sic!) a lot, because I have a lot of fine colleagues that can be encouraged by the team itself / scrum master using a small, symbolic ‘prize’ – no need to sit and wait for management – remember the ‘courage’ value 😉

    • Anurag Jain

      agree Bas, and in any way scrum is implemented because management wanted it, and they will try their best to do their part

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  • Hey Dave, great to see the emphasis on values, which I consider the underlying bedrock for effectively using any framework. I’d like to know more about what you mean when you say “Keeping the customer happy” is a misunderstanding of the value “Focus”. I’m concerned about this because I feel this could get interpreted as the Sprint goal being more important than the customer’s happiness or satisfaction, which may not be what you mean to convey.

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  • Doodle boy

    I’m sorry but to me these ‘values’ are silly. It would be totally patronising for the the scummster to ask team members to demonstrate them. What are we kids in an army camp? It would be a much better use of the walls to show user journeys and empathy maps. From experience, projects that work like that are run by people who don’t care about the product. I would leave on day one.

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