The Scrum methodology is based on the concept of empiricism. Within the empirical approach, we make decisions based on what we experience and observe. That means that we monitor our past experiences (for instance how we develop a peace of functionality) and if we see room for improvement, take this experience and adjust our course of action. Implementing a test- and hypothesis-driven culture is therefore key to create empirical change within your organization.
Within the realm of empiricism, we utilize three core pillars. These are Transparency, Inspection, and Adaption:
- Transparency: All stakeholders, both inside and outside the Scrum team, need to be transparent about the work they conduct. Furthermore, it is important to establish a common language among participants so progress is visible and understandable to everybody. For instance, creating a common Definition of Done, which is consistent across Sprints, helps those inside and outside the team to understand what has been achieved. The same applies to other artifacts such as the Product and Sprint Backlog.
- Inspection: In Scrum, we regularly inspect all artifacts, that is the people, backlog, workflows, as well as product increments. As the Scrum team is self-organizing, Inspection can be conducted by every member of the team. Nonetheless, it should not get in the way of work and thus harm the Sprint goal. One workflow example we utilized in my consulting work was that the client was given the opportunity to inspect each product increment through dedicated User Acceptance Testing. But beware, it is advised that the people conducting Inspection are qualified and diligently perform the task.
- Adaption: If an inspector (or the team as a whole) realizes one or more aspects stray away from what is deemed acceptable and that the result will therefore be unacceptable, the process must then be adjusted. Simply ask yourself: are we better off than we have been yesterday? The week before? Or even two quarters ago? Allowing the Scrum team to adapt helps to react to changing customer and market needs while optimizing the generated output. Adaption can occur at any time, but certain Scrum events can be particularly used for it. For instance, within the Daily Scrum, the developers can discuss minor improvements amongst themselves. During Sprint Review, the team can receive feedback from all stakeholders and adapt accordingly. And finally, a Sprint Retrospective can help to modify internal team dynamics..
To support these three pillars, Scrum emphasises the following values to be embodied by each Scrum Team:
- Commitment (to achieving goals of the Scrum Team).
- Courage (to do what is right and work on tough problems).
- Focus (on the Sprint’s work and the goals of the Scrum Team).
- Openness (about challenges of the work).
- Respect (each other as capable and independent members of the Scrum Team).