Recently I notice an uptake of articles and people arguing there’s no focus on value in Scrum. All based on the promise that Scrum is just a way to make teams deliver faster, but won’t help you deliver valuable stuff faster. This would make Scrum a framework that just does the ‘building the thing right’ (and fast) part of the ‘building the right thing & building it right’. While that statement is meant to point out that you should first and foremost focus on building the right thing (solving a customer problem or need), because without that part – knowing what is valuable – you can build all the stuff you want in the right way, but it will get you shiny solutions with zero value. Or actually random value. But that is moot.
The truth? Yes, Scrum helps with a faster delivery, by enabling short feedback loops and working increments delivered in Sprints. And yes, there is a lot of attention to development (team) improvement through coaching, mentoring and teaching by the Scrum Master. But wait, there’s more! What is the actual value in Scrum?
Claiming Scrum only makes teams deliver faster, without helping in delivering value, is a big slap in the face of Product Owners everywhere. The role of the P.O. (Product Owner) is summarized as ‘value maximizer’. A great Product Owner in a Scrum team uses the short feedback loops and fast incremental delivery to inform decisions on what to build next. A great P.O. talks to the Dev team and other Stakeholders to collaborate and learn about possible directions to take with the Product Development, and the P.O.’s decisions and priorities are reflected in the Product Backlog. The Product Backlog holds all the ‘things to try’ in the continuous quest for optimizing value.
To say that Scrum does not help delivering value, but only helps teams deliver whatever they build faster, is simply not true. In the Scrum framework, value has a clear place: Value is in the definition, the ordering of the backlog and finally (ultimately) in the role & responsibilities of the Product Owner.
Disclaimer: This article is a quick brain dump, so if you peruse the Scrum Guide you can probably find more examples where Scrum can help with value delivery. I discuss a good or even great application of Scrum here. There are many examples of Scrum done poorly or worse with terrible results. I also think there is much to be learned from other frameworks and schools of thought; Lean (in all its variations), SAFe, Prince2 (yeah I said it), etc. I’d be happy to learn about value delivery in your preferred way of working!