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The Three Pillars of Scrum

What are the Three Pillars of Scrum?

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What are the Three Pillars of Scrum?

The following article is part of the self-preparation for the modern BVOP® Scrum Master Certification program.

Once a team has started using Scrum, over time, they begin to discover problems with their current workflow.

  1. Application of the Three Pillars of Scrum
  2. Transparency
  3. Inspection
  4. Adaptation
  5. Empiricism
  6. Empirical practices
  7. Most significant obstacles for Scrum

Once a team has started using Scrum, over time, they begin to discover problems with their current workflow. Problem study may be possible if efforts are made to monitor the process adequately and discuss the issues. It can also become clearer what teams need to improve their work and ensure that they achieve their goal.

Application of the Three Pillars of Scrum

The three Pillars of Scrum are applied for productive improvement. They are:

  • Transparency
  • Inspection
  • Adaptation

The Scrum workflow is transparent, making it easy for participants to inspect their current status, identify problems, and adapt accordingly.

Transparency

Transparency allows the team to inspect their work and progress and adapt when they see room for improvement. The entire Scrum team and the organization as a whole are involved in a continuous improvement cycle.

Transparency is achieved through:

  • Consistent inspection and adaptation of events (Daily Scrum meetings for review and retrospectives) that encourage team members to overcome the obstacles they face.
  • Transparent, clear, and understandable Product Backlog tasks, visible and easily accessible to all.
  • A shared understanding of Scrum concepts.

BVOP states that transparency, in theory, is of great help to complete work and processes, but in practice, there may be problems with it. Not everyone prefers to be transparent. Not every director will prefer transparent processes where issues are discussed and brought to light.

Inspection

The Scrum team checks the artifacts it creates and their progress toward the main goal. Verification is performed throughout the Sprint. If a Scrum team member has any concerns and encounters any obstacles, those concerns are shared with other team members. Sharing occurs during the Daily Scrum meeting, the Retrospective meeting, or during the Sprint Review meeting. BVOP states that sharing problems can happen at any other time without waiting for specific events if this does not interfere with the team in any way.

The official term for these meetings is "events".

The Scrum Team consists of all product developers, Scrum Master, and Product Owner.

Adaptation

When obstacles arise as a result of inspections, the Scrum team adjusts how they work to remove them. These can be situations where the Scrum process is compromised or can be improved in some aspects.

Another problem may be, for example, that the team is not progressing as expected, or the work of the team is not increasing the business value of the product, etc.

Scrum requires the removal of these obstacles as soon as possible, but it is up to the team to determine exactly how to do it. Developers, Scrum Master, and Product Owner work together to solve their problems.

Outsiders such as clients or senior management should not make decisions instead of the team.

However, in real life, this may not always be the case. Some individuals outside the Scrum Team may wish to manage their jobs, tasks, and even people.

Another possible downside to the Scrum principles is when one of the team members assumes he or she is a leader.

Empiricism

A popular term in Scrum is empiricism.

Empiricism is simply a practice through which decisions are made based on real experiences and real situations. This means that when decisions are made in unforeseen circumstances or when complex problems are solved, the basis of the action or decisions is known and proven, not observed or felt.

Ideas are tested through experimentation and then noted, rejected, or changed to something better or more valuable.

Empirical practices

Empirical practices are used in Scrum to ensure continuous improvement of workflows and real results. Scrum allows continuous improvement through its events (Daily Scrum, Retrospective, and Sprint Review). These events are inspection and adaptation opportunities that take place at regular intervals.

The inspection gives the team information about what they are doing well and what areas of their work can be improved. The goal of continuous improvement of Scrum is to provide higher value to end-users.

Scrum’s rules and ideas cannot help the team and the organization by itself. Тeam members' experience and the ability to improve and develop all Scrum roles are the main criteria for success. Another essential factor for the significant development of the organization, teams, and products is the deep understanding of Scrum processes and culture from all key roles. The organization should not interfere in any negative way.

Most significant obstacles for Scrum

BVOP states that the most significant obstacle for Scrum is the inexperience of the organization and its teams.

Possible reasons for an organization not to use Scrum purposefully could be:

  • Senior management's fear of using Agile methodologies.
  • Weak control over teams and avoidance of micromanagement.
  • Unawareness of Scrum's ideas, principles, rules, and goals.
  • Lack of enough competent Scrum roles and teams.
  • The objection of external stakeholders to use Scrum.
  • A previous negative experience of the organization with the use of Scrum.

Possible reasons for an organization to use Scrum could be:

  • All popular Scrum ideas and applications.
  • Scrum's popularity to attract competent staff.
  • The popularity of Scrum to attract customers and partners.
  • The explicit desire to use Scrum by customers or partners.
  • Using Scrum in other teams on which the organization depends.

The following issues related to chapter "The Three Pillars of Scrum" are included in the certification exam. The sequence of questions is presented in the table.
The data is current as of July 8, 2020, 5:46 pm

ID Issue Time Category
0 Inspection 60 sec SM, PO
1 Transparency 60 sec SM, PO
2 Empirical practices 60 sec SM, PO
3 Empiricism 60 sec SM, PO
4 Application of the Three Pillars of Scrum 60 sec SM, PO
5 Adaptation 60 sec SM, PO
6 Most significant obstacles for Scrum 60 sec SM, PO
Comments of our guests
  1. Dora Delic
    In my observations, many Scrum teams do not actually practice empiricism according to their observations on product development and the business environment, but rather apply personal views and skills from previous experience. In this case, can we assume that Scrum ideas are being violated because the team does not really use what is learned from the real current situation, but simply assumes?
  2. BVOP™
    Dear Dora, Probably your observations are in many real situations. However, empiricism has many understandings. Scrum does not explain this idea quite clearly. Still, every time team members go through even trivial problems, experiences and activities, they accumulate knowledge and then make decisions based on that experience. Of course, people's previous experience is also essential, even if it is not gained from the current project. Team members would rarely come up with imaginary rules and ideas.
  3. Joseph M.
    I would agree with the comment of the BVOP team. Many of Scrum's day-to-day activities and processes seem to the sideline observer as usual, natural, and as if nothing special is happening. Many teams and professionals have come a long way to achieve this naturalness. Personal views and previous experiences are also part of the empirical process.
  4. Edward Murray
    I believe it is high time for Strum to add additional pillars related to modern trends and perspectives regarding, for example, the work atmosphere, culture, ethics, and productivity.
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