18 Mar 2018

Focus on Business Value with Scrum


How do we, as a company, keep our focus on Business Value, when we our teams are dominated by technical people and developers, who are not always even expected to see the bigger picture.

The agile manifesto states that Business people and developers must work 

together daily throughout the project. That is a really important principle, because most tech people are intelligent people, who could easily engage in thinking about business value while coding or building a product. 

But as long as the business people are at a distance, not communicating much with the developers, they will stay strangers, and the shared engagement towards a common goal of business value will not be reached.

Business people sometimes have an idea that they cannot get through to technical people, because they are not technical themselves. Also some tech people I know would rather not bother trying to explain technical things, to business people in an understandable way.

I would go as far as to state that knowing what contributes to delivering business value will make you a better developer, and perhaps also a happier developer, with a more clear purpose, than if you are treated as a mere machine. 

If you are a business professional, you will probably do better work and be happier too, if you got the chance to gain another perspective and a better understanding of the technical aspects. But how should we work, and how can Scrum help us gain a common goal?

Agile mindset

To succeed in using Scrum, you also have to embrace an agile mindset. I see too many companies starting to adopt Scrum, thinking it is some kind of silver bullet, but keeping traditional project management, with business people and technical people not interacting enough. Management not having a clue what this “Scrum thing“ is about, thinking it is something used in a technical department to work faster. Managers trying to manage self managing teams, people higher in the hierarchy disrupting the work being done. And in the end, blaming Scrum for their failures.
So, first understand what it means to be agile. Read and understand the agile manifesto and its principles. Also bear in mind that it was conceived in 2001, with software development in mind.

“Scrum is the framework I built to put these values into practice” - Jeff Sutherland 

For a really successful Scrum transformation, even business people, leaders, salesforce and marketers need a deeper knowledge of what it means to be agile. Everyone will benefit from a more thorough understanding of the whole picture. The only way of obtaining this is through working together daily. Real agility means focusing on business value.

What can we learn from Scrum?

Basically to scrutinize how we did work yesterday, and applying the learnings to the way we do work tomorrow. In Scrum this is known as Inspect and Adapt.

Educate people in the organization. Not only those involved in the Scrum team, but everyone interacting with that team needs to have some grasp of what applies. 

The course that I give at Edument is called Scrum Master with certification, but it is actually a suitable course for anyone involved in adopting Scrum, since we focus a lot on understanding the agile foundations for the Scrum framework. 

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