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Creating and Iterating on a Value Statement

Scrum teams work closely to deliver the product increment they are dedicated to while applying the Agile methodology. The teams also work with both the Product Owner and Scrum Master to reach a shared business goal.

About a year ago, one of our teams (we’ll call them Team A) created a Value Statement for their scrum team.

The goal of the exercise was for the team to better qualify how they want to work, who they want to be, what they really care about, and what they want to be known for as a team. The common values would give the team something to hold as sacred in their working relationships, and the team was confident the exercise would boost their performance and work satisfaction.

The exercise was executed by having each person take five minutes to write down the top five things that are important to them when coming to work every day. Some examples of these would be camaraderie, quality code, fun, clear communication, learning, etc. After everyone wrote down their five values, each person in turn shared them. Each person’s values were written on a board and grouped together by category. Trends and themes were readily apparent, and the team (including the Scrum Master and Product Owner) realized that they shared many values. After identifying the values they shared, the team further discussed what they meant by each value (what would it look like in reality – actions, conversations, and behavior – if people were acting, communicating, and working in ways that embody each value). Afterwards, the Scrum Master summarized the discussion into one or two sentences describing each value. The value statements were presented to the team, and once accepted, the team had declared their consolidated value statement. See the picture below of the team’s value statement that lives on the wall outside the team room.

Value statement

Coming to the realization that everyone on the team had similar values created a strong sense of camaraderie, purpose, and commitment. Roughly a year has passed since the team created the value statement, so they recently conducted a retrospective on how well they’ve embodied their values.

The retrospective was conducted in the following way: Each team member rated the team on a scale from one to 10 on how well they’ve embodied each value during the last year. The ratings were done in a "planning-poker-esque" way, where each person showed their rating using their hands on the count of three. The team had already decided what an example of a 10 would look like versus a one when it came to each value.

The average of everyone's numbers was the rating the team gave each value. The results are below:

  • Thought Leadership | Score: 7.7
  • Quality Code | Score: 7.6
  • Integrity | Score: 8.9
  • Continual Planning | Score: 7.3
  • Common Purpose | Score: 8.4

 

Next, the team decided which value they wanted to discuss, with the goal of generating near-future actions to raise the value's rating one point. The team chose to talk about Quality Code, and the actions generated are below.

  • Members should hold more frequent code commits and code reviews throughout the Sprint. The Scrum Master will make sure the team discusses this at the beginning of near-future Retrospectives, so the habit becomes ingrained.
  • The team needs to take it upon themselves to remind each other of the above at StandUp.
  • A few team members need more powerful machines so they can run regression tests more quickly and more frequently. The Scrum Master and the team’s manager will ensure the machines are upgraded.
  • The team should put as much effort towards the quality of Junit code as it puts towards the quality of feature code. The Scrum Master will make sure the team discusses this at the beginning of near-future Retrospectives so the habit becomes ingrained.
  • Restart the team’s regular book club, where the team reads a few chapters of technical books every week to better learn the craft of software engineering. The Scrum Master will work this into the team’s schedule.

Additionally, the team scheduled a weekly meeting for the next few weeks to continue discussing how to improve the other values.

Overall, the exercise was very useful. Creating a common set of values that the team can agree to uphold generates a strong sense of camaraderie, and the team is definitely more effective as a result. In retrospect, the team members think they should have reflected and iterated on the value statement much sooner than one year out, but the entire exercise was still very useful. The team highly recommends implementing something similar with your team.

 

 

About the author

Passionately dedicated to both individual and team development, Brian is an enthusiastic change agent who has been instrumental in integrating  “next level” Agile performance throughout Pegasystems. Certified as both a Scrum Master and Product Owner, Brian leverages his engineering and Agile experience to drive continuous improvement across teams, departments, and organizations.