Scrum Values Help Reshape the Corporate Culture
Scrum methodology provides a blueprint to reshape your corporate culture, and its values bring results that make the change stick.
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Every company has a set of rules and behaviors that shape its culture. This is not something that is written down, enforced, or artificially created. It is a deeply ingrained set of behavioral patterns, which exist in the company from its very beginning, even when the company had only one employee.
Corporate culture cannot be built. But you can create the right conditions which allow the culture to further develop and change as your company develops and grows. The culture plays a big role in how people perceive and do their work because it is greatly influenced by the organizational leaders and their behaviors.
One of the most important things that shape corporate culture is communication. When a company wants to become Agile and starts using the Scrum methodology, one of the main goals is to increase communication and collaboration among employees. And it is necessary that organizational leaders encourage and handle the positive conflicts that emerge during this time and help build a strong foundation of trust, truth, transparency, respect, and commitment so teams can embrace the transformation.
How Scrum Changes the Culture
When a company undergoes an Agile transformation and starts using Scrum, a lot of things change. Effective use of Scrum results in changes to the way teams think about their work, building different social structures, and valuing different outcomes. The decision-making structures change, and these different behaviors are rewarded. After sticking long enough with the new set of behaviors, they solidify and gradually become part of the corporate culture. Scrum becomes an organizational change agent and Scrum values become part of or replace the existing corporate values.
Scrum values play a big role in how these gradual changes happen — first within teams, then throughout the whole company. Scrum values – commitment, focus, openness, respect, and courage – address the human aspect of the Scrum framework, and provide guidelines for teams on how they can interact effectively. While Scrum processes, ceremonies, and roles define the workflow, the values offer the team a way to address interpersonal problems that can appear when working together.
Even though these changes can be long and even painful, they lead to creating more productive behaviors and boosting commitment. This happens only when people agree on common goals and it makes them feel accountable for delivering high value.
Using Scrum to Improve Quality, Value, Team Focus and Trust
Very often, Scrum is different from the existing culture and mindset of people where it is introduced. Even though there is often resistance, and people need time to change their mindset and behaviors, Scrum spreads within a company because of its four main characteristics: quality, value, team focus, and trust. Each of them is important because they help spread a new cultural mindset and its related behavior patterns.
Every company values quality. Scrum addresses this by offering a simple rule: get a releasable product every sprint. When quality is valued and teams follow this rule more closely, quality becomes a priority and the reality of everyday work because people take more pride in their work. When people start to feel there are no cultural barriers to doing the right thing, they trust there is a better alignment between what is said and what is done. This, in turn, leads to increased trust between management and employees, and better all-around engagement.
In traditional project management, companies invest time and money but don’t deliver any real value to the business or end-users until the whole project is completed and delivered. Conversely, when working on a Scrum project, teams can deliver value almost immediately, and add more to it after each sprint due to the frequent opportunities to inspect and adapt. The delivery of working products and services helps companies shift from a culture of predicting, to one that is testing the hypothesis in the market, and moving from the mindset of “let’s try and see what we can learn” to “I made this prediction, you need to make it happen.” This approach helps teams get technical and user feedback in the early stages, and makes great economic sense.
Creating Team Focus
In traditional organizations, teams usually are structured around areas of expertise. These different silos need to communicate and coordinate with each other to create value. In contrast, Scrum focuses on creating cross-functional teams that include experts in all of the different areas required to deliver value in the specific project. The entire team starts to get a broader perspective, and a shift in focus from “me” to “team”, and the problem to be solved, not the individuals solving the problem. That way, there is higher engagement, team satisfaction and better business results which focus on delivering value to customers.
When teams begin to regularly deliver value in each sprint, the traditional plan-and-control approach becomes redundant. Weekly sprint status reports become unnecessary and weekly sprint reviews are for seeing what the team has built. As teams work together, over time, inspecting and adapting their processes to deliver value becomes easier and faster because they build trust with each other due to the shared purpose. Gradually, this results in building strong trust among teams and their members.
Different people interpret Scrum values differently, but the goal is to make teams aware of the values and allow them to alter their working process in a more effective way according to the Scrum values. It will help shape the teams’ identities and correct their problems. Over time, Scrum values will create and support the aforementioned changes to the quality of work, and delivered value, change the focus, and help teams build trust.
In the end, instead of making a company break while resisting and flexing for a moment in the presence of stress and change, only to go back to its normal state, Scrum values will support a culture that embraces change and improves. If a company is not experimenting, that it cannot improve, and Scrum is created to support experimenting and building stronger trust necessary for trying out new things. Scrum is the instigator of a cultural change, and its values the guidelines that lead the company towards it.
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