Agile Playbook: What is Scrum?

Scrum began in the early 90s with the purpose to solve complex challenges, typically in the development area. Nowadays you can find Scrum in many different areas.

There are three main points you should know about Scrum:

  • the theory
  • the roles and
  • the events

Scrum Theory

Scrum is based on three pillars: transparency, inspection and adaptation.

Transparency means that significant aspects of the process must be visible for those responsible for the process. When using Scrum, we try to share all relevant information with all people involved.

Inspection and adaptation is very essential to Scrum, as in regular intervals, we take some time to inspect what has been done and to decide how to move on in order to achieve the goals (adaptation).

The Scrum guide also defines these five values:

  • commitment
  • courage
  • focus
  • openness and
  • respect

Scrum Roles

A Scrum Team consists of

  • a Product Owner
  • a Development Team and
  • a Scrum Master​

The Product Owners’ main task is to maximize the value of a product. He or she is also in charge of the product backlog.

The development team is a self-organizing, cross-functional team consisting of 3-9 people that develops the product.

The Scrum Master is in charge for promoting and supporting Scrum (helping everyone to understand the Scrum theory, practices, roles and values) and he or she is a is a servant leader for the Scrum Team.

Scrum Events

Scrum meetings create regularity and minimize the need for other meetings. They are all time boxed and each event is an opportunity to inspect and adapt. The meetings are designed to enable the critical transparency & inspection.

There are five different Scrum events:

  • sprint
  • planning
  • daily
  • review
  • retro

A sprint is a time frame of 1-4 weeks (typically two weeks). In this time, a useable potentially releasable product increment is created. So the main idea is to deliver a done increment of the product at the end of every sprint, which could be released, but doesn’t have be.

The time frame is consistent – all sprints have the same duration. So if you choose your sprints to be two weeks, you should stick to that.

A sprint consists of the development work and the other events:

Every sprint starts with a planning meeting. A plan for the sprint is created by collaborative work of the Scrum Team.

The Daily Scrum – or Daily Stand-Up – is a daily meeting with a time box of max 15 minutes. It is the meeting of the dev team and it’s held every day at the same place and time. The development team plans the next 24 hours.

Typically, they answer three questions:

  • What have I done yesterday?
  • What am I gonna do today?
  • Are there any impediments?

There are no discussions during the Daily and though it is the meeting of the development team, everyone is allowed to join, but not to disturb the meeting.

The review takes place at the end of a Sprint. Usually, the Scrum Team and stakeholders attend the meeting. The development team demonstrates the work done – the potentially shippable product increment. The Scrum team and the stakeholders agree on how to move on.

The retro takes also place at the end of a Sprint and is another opportunity to inspect and adapt and create a plan for improvements.

The purpose of the meeting is to

  • inspect the last sprint with a focus on people, relationships, processes, tools etc.
  • identify potentials and to
  • create a plan.
Bo von der Heyden

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