Scrum is a Framework For Product Discovery AND Delivery
Primarily, doing Agile or Scrum, it’s not about the best products we could build. It’s about how we work better together to build the best products.
“We are uncovering better ways of developing software […].”
– (Agile Manifesto 2001)
As a side effect, the products become better, only!
David Pereira (Pereira, 2022, Nov 22) states rightly "Embracing the unknown is the core of Agile". Scrum is not a silver bullet to solve everything problem. Scrum works only in certain domains correctly — for more details see my post on Surviving in Scrum-Land.
Scrum addresses complex problems while delivering the highest possible value.
Scrum teams build valuable products in a complex environment.
"Scrum is a lightweight framework that helps people, teams and organizations generate value through adaptive solutions for complex problems. [...]
– (Scrum Guide 2020).
Scrum is a discovery framework. The Sprint is a container Scrum teams explore potential solutions and implement the most prominent one. Sprint Planning, Daily Scrum, and Sprint Review are events to support teams and their stakeholders to inspect and adapt. Scrum teams and their stakeholders need to be able to adjust the course based on new information.
"In complex environments, what will happen is unknown. Only what has already happened may be used for forward-looking decision making."
– (Scrum Guide 2020).
Yet, Scrum is a framework suitable for both, product Discovery and product delivery.
"A Scrum team, […] focused on one objective at a time, the product goal.
The Product goal describes a future state of the product which can serve as a target for the Scrum team to plan against.
The Sprint goal is the single objective for the Sprint. Although the Sprint goal is a commitment by the Developers, it provides flexibility in terms of the exact work needed to achieve it.
An Increment is a concrete stepping stone toward the product goal. Each Increment is additive to all prior Increments and thoroughly verified, ensuring that all Increments work together. In order to provide value, the Increment must be usable."
– (Scrum Guide 2020)
Scrum is by purpose incomplete to be applied to different fields of applications. Hence, Scrum doesn't prescribe how the practices it offers should be executed. Eventually, these practices can be realized in various ways.
This holds for Sprint's goals and product goals as well. Therefore, some Agilists view the product goals as the product vision, while others relate them to the product’s value proposition. In the end, the product goal describes the product value as the customer/user experience of its usage and purpose.
Sprint goals provide certain flexibility in the work on how to achieve them. And since the Scrum team is accountable for delivering the value of the Increment by committing to the Sprint goal, the team has the authority to decide which exact work is needed to achieve this goal. In the extreme, a Scrum team has the openness to replace during the Sprint a planned Backlog Item with a different one fitting better the committed goal.
In setting boundaries, the organization defines and equally respects this team’s autonomy and self-management — or worst sabotages the ideas of Scrum.
Scrum teams commit to the Sprint goal, not to the work to be done during the Sprint.
In determining and limiting Scrum teams to deliver work as planned only we completely ignore the fact that Scrum is intended to be used in complex environments where we don’t know what will happen, even within the Sprint.
This insight wasn’t in Scrum right from the start. When Scrum started in 1995, it was delivery-oriented up to the Scrum Guide 2017 (the first Scrum Guide was published in 2010). It was only with the new Scrum Guide 2020 that this changed and Scrum became value-driven by introducing and focussing the notions of Sprint and product goals — see my post on Agile Value Creation.
"Without a value-driven mindset, all Agile frameworks will lead you to the same place. Nowhere."
– (Pereira, 2022, Nov 22)
Doing Scrum with a value-driven mindset combines both: product discovery and product delivery. First, we start with an idea or problem solution (MVP). Then we refine and sharpened this idea continuously by demoing and discussing with the customer till together we agree on the best-suited product solution for the intended usage. Stefan Wolpers wrote a very useful article about value creation in Scrum, (Wolpers 2022, Nov 21).
- Pereira, David (2022, Nov 22): We Failed Agile! Shame on Us! A story about hope. Medium.com, 2022, Nov 22. https://bootcamp.uxdesign.cc/we-failed-agile-shame-on-us-e5f18ae66f48.
- Wolpers, Stefan (2022, Nov 21): value Creation in Scrum: Shift Left. Scrum.org, 2022, Nov 21. https://www.scrum.org/resources/blog/value-creation-scrum-shift-left.