Scrum Values III: Today’s Episode — Focus

Once again, from the Scrum Guide:

“Everyone focuses on the work of the Sprint and the goals of the Scrum Team.”

In my post about commitment, I touched on the importance of setting our forecast for Sprint in accordance with the Sprint Goals.  In my post about courage, the importance of adhering to our Definition of Done made an appearance.  These things have something else in common.  To make both of these things happen, we need Focus.

In some ways, Focus is perhaps the simplest of the Sprint Values for us to consider.  In other ways, it is much more complicated.

The easiest way to think about Focus, is to look within the context of a Sprint.  During Sprint Planning, the team works with the Product Owner and selects what it will be working on within that Sprint.  In order for the team to meet that forecast, the team must focus solely on the selected work.

  • The team doesn’t work on anything that is outside of the Sprint Goal.
  • If someone makes a new request of the Development Team, the direct the requestor to the Product Owner, rather than diverting their attention.
  • When there is something that is preventing the team from making progress, they bring it to the attention of the Scrum Master, and resume work toward the Sprint Goal.

Going beyond just that, it’s easy to see other ways in which Focus is important to how Scrum makes us more effective!  The most effective way to get a User Story done is to swarm on that item.  When the team swarms on the one or two most valuable/important things in the Sprint Backlog and gets each to done before moving on, the team’s velocity skyrockets.  When we are focused on those one or two things, it’s much easier to spot the trouble areas and come up with a plan to deal with uncertainty.  Focus is what allows us to make sure all of our important ceremonies in Scrum fit within their time boxes.  We aren’t having meetings purely for the sake of having meetings, but we are concentrating on the task at hand.

Distilled into its simplest form, focus gets us to done and lets us become faster and more productive.

Part II
Part I

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About Heath

Scrum Master. Software Engineer. Writer. Musician. Craft Beer Aficionado. Jeopardy! contestant. Not necessarily in that order.