September 29, 2023
Technology Solution Delivery

Scrum Basics: Getting to Good

In the world of software development and project management, understanding the Scrum basics is essential for success. However, while its foundational principles are widely recognized, many teams grapple with its practical application. Time and again, two recurring issues emerge: the creation of substandard user stories and the oversight of skipping retrospectives.

Scrum User Stories

User stories serve as the backbone of any Scrum project, acting as a bridge between abstract ideas and tangible product features. Their effectiveness, however, hinges on the depth of detail, clarity, and comprehensiveness. A well-crafted user story dives deep into the nuances of the feature, providing a clear picture of the desired outcome. The more detailed the user story, the less room there is for ambiguity. In today’s interconnected digital landscape, user stories shouldn’t exist in isolation. Linking to external documents, mock-ups, or any relevant reference material can provide invaluable context. Moreover, crafting acceptance criteria that can be answered with a binary “yes” or “no” eliminates gray areas, providing a clear benchmark for completion.

Continuous Improvement Through Scrum Retrospectives

But Scrum isn’t just about planning and execution; it’s about reflection and growth. The beauty of the agile mindset lies in its commitment to continuous improvement, and at the heart of this commitment is the retrospective. In the agile world, stagnation is the antithesis of progress. The business landscape of today is fluid, with “you know’, change being the ONLY constant. Retrospectives provide teams with a structured platform to reflect on their actions, celebrate successes, and more importantly, identify areas of improvement. They act as a compass, helping teams identify their current phase and guiding them towards the next. By fostering a culture of introspection and evolution, teams can transform challenges into opportunities and ensure that they are always at the forefront of excellence.

While Scrum’s core philosophy is sound, its effectiveness is only as good as its implementation. By emphasizing the importance of detailed user stories, integrating external references, setting clear acceptance criteria, and harnessing the power of retrospectives, teams can ensure that their Scrum journey is both efficient and effective.

Embark with Kenway on your Scrum Journey

Grapple with the effectiveness of your implementation of Scrum? Whether you’re just starting to explore Scrum basics or looking to improve individual team effectiveness, our experts at Kenway Consulting are here to guide you every step of the way. Dive deeper into the world of Scrum with us and discover the benefits of agile today. Reach out today and let’s start the conversation.


What are the five principles of scrum?

At the foundation of Agile methodologies, including Scrum, lies the crucial principle of trust. Trust catalyzes open collaboration, adaptability, and a shared commitment to delivering value. From this core principle, Scrum builds upon five distinct values:

  1. Commitment: Each member of the team pledges commitment to the tasks and goals of the current Sprint. Beyond just timelines or objectives, there’s a mutual agreement to make a good faith effort to complete all work brought into the Sprint, ensuring value delivery and trust among team members.
  2. Courage: The team possesses the courage to confront the status quo, face challenging problems head-on, and remain true to Scrum’s principles. This involves being transparent about progress, even when facing uncertainties or challenges.
  3. Focus: With a clear shared purpose, everyone remains centered on the work of the current Sprint and the overarching goals of the Scrum Team. This concentrated attention ensures the consistent delivery of high-quality results.
  4. Openness: Openness in Scrum isn’t just about communication; it’s about visibility and collaboration. Teams visualize work using tools like task boards or Kanban boards to maintain transparency. Practices like pair programming and peer review embody the principle of openness, ensuring knowledge sharing, quality assurance, and collective ownership of the codebase.
  5. Respect: At its core, respect in Scrum is about recognizing and valuing the individual strengths and contributions of each team member. This mutual respect supports self-organizing teams, allowing them to arrange and adapt their work methods to capitalize on each member’s strengths.

What are the basics of Scrum?

Scrum is a popular Agile framework that aids teams in developing and delivering high-quality products. At its core, Scrum emphasizes collaboration, adaptability, and iterative progress.

What are the key roles in Scrum?

  1. Product Owner: Represents the stakeholders and is responsible for maximizing the value of the product by prioritizing the Product Backlog.
  2. Scrum Master: Facilitates Scrum for the team, ensures that Scrum practices and values are followed, and helps remove any obstacles the team might face.
  3. Development Team: A cross-functional group responsible for delivering potentially shippable increments (PSIs) at the end of each Sprint.

What are the core Scrum events?

  1. Sprint: A time-boxed period, usually 2-4 weeks long, during which a “Done” product increment is created.
  2. Daily Stand-up (or Daily Scrum): A 15-minute event for the Development Team to synchronize activities and plan for the next 24 hours.
  3. Sprint Planning: An event to decide what work will be performed in the upcoming Sprint.
  4. Sprint Review: Held at the end of the Sprint to inspect the increment and adapt the Product Backlog if necessary.
  5. Sprint Retrospective: The team reflects on the past Sprint and plans improvements for the next one.

What are the key scrum artifacts?

  1. Product Backlog: A prioritized list of features, enhancements, and fixes required in the product.
  2. Sprint Backlog: A subset of the Product Backlog that the team commits to completing during a Sprint.
  3. Increment: The sum of all the Product Backlog items completed during a Sprint combined with the work of previous Sprints, resulting in a potentially shippable product.
  4.  Definition of Done (DoD): A shared understanding within the team about the criteria that must be met for work to be considered complete.

What is Time-boxing in Scrum? 

All Scrum events are time-boxed, meaning they have a maximum duration, ensuring efficiency and focus.

Just because these are the basics doesn’t mean they have to be implemented all at once. Visualization of the work, adopting a product mentality, and embracing short development cycles can serve as starting points, especially if there’s a need to continue delivering on deadlines during the transition.

What are the 3 pillars of Scrum?

The Scrum framework is built upon three foundational pillars that uphold every implementation of empirical process control. These pillars are essential for successfully employing Scrum’s iterative and incremental approach. They are:

  1. Transparency: This means that all aspects of the Scrum process and the work being done must be visible to everyone involved. Whether it’s the progress in a Sprint, the metrics being used, or the visualization of tasks on a Kanban Board, everyone should have a clear and shared understanding. The Kanban Board, in particular, serves as a visual representation of the workflow, allowing team members and stakeholders to see the status of tasks and how they move through different stages, fostering a common perspective that aids in effective collaboration and decision-making.
  2. Inspection: Regularly examining the Scrum artifacts and the progress towards a Sprint Goal ensures that undesirable variances or issues can be detected. Scrum practices, like Daily Stand-ups and Sprint Reviews, are set opportunities for inspection. However, inspection should be an ongoing activity to monitor progress and quality.
  3. Adaptation: When the team or stakeholders identify aspects that are outside the acceptable limits, or when the product or process can be improved, an adjustment must be made. This is where the importance of retrospectives comes into play. Retrospectives provide a dedicated space for the team to reflect on their processes, successes, and challenges. By doing so, they can identify actionable improvements, ensuring the team is self-correcting and continually enhancing their methods to deliver the highest value.

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