Scrum Values V: Today’s Episode — Respect

And with part five, we get to the heart of everything.  Respect.  One last time, the Scrum Guide:

“Scrum Team members respect each other to be capable, independent people.”

I’ve seen what can happen when respect is lost, and it’s not pretty, my friends.  

Have you sat in a team meeting (pick one, any one) where one person talks over the rest of the team?  Had someone who simply will not listen to any opinion other than his or her own?  How about the meeting where one or more members of the Dev Team refuses to listen to the Product Owner or Scrum Master because he/she “knows better” or “has been doing this longer than you have”?  Have you seen a team lead who tells the rest of the team to do what he says, not self-assign work or swarm on the most valuable items in the Sprint Backlog?  Have you had the team member who brings his/her laptop into a Retrospective or Sprint Planning meeting and is too busy sending emails to pay attention to what is happening in the room?  

Better yet, have you seen all of those in the same person?

I have, and it’s horrible.

How about the Product Owner or Scrum Master who intentionally moves to sit near the door so he can monitor when everyone enters and leaves, and keeps track of exactly how long each person is away from their desk because they demand 100% utilization?  Have you thrown your hands up in exasperation at the end of a meeting, or at the end of a day, and wanted to just scream because it feels like you could have spent your time better poking knitting needles through your arms?

Those things are fun too!

In fact, I don’t even have to think that hard to come up with an example of each of these disrespectful behaviors.  Look back at the first post I wrote here, about a failed Agile Transformation.  The lack of respect for the team is all over that post, and everyone on that team – myself included – felt it.  Want to take a great team and make them completely dysfunctional?  Stop showing them any kind of respect and see what happens.

Without respect, the rest of the Scrum Values are just words.  They mean nothing.  We can’t do anything else if we don’t show ourselves and everyone on our Scrum Teams respect:

  • We actively listen when someone else is talking, even if we don’t really want to hear what they are saying.  Especially then.
  • We firmly believe that every person on our team is awesome and can do any task they put their minds to.
  • We know that every member of our Scrum Team is absolutely professional, is dedicated to doing their best at all times, and wants the entire team to succeed.
  • We understand that the entire room is smarter than the smartest person in the room, and value what the entire team has to say.
  • We value the input of our stakeholders, who want the best possible product for all our users, both internal and external.
  • We recognize the importance of being on time for meetings, and for staying within timeboxes.
  • We respect our process.

When we lose respect, the team suffers.  

  • We lack Commitment, because we start becoming too busy looking out for ourselves and not the team.
  • We lack Courage, because we have already accepted defeat.
  • We lack Focus, because our minds are preoccupied, or we allow ourselves to be distracted.
  • We lack Openness, because we cannot trust.

We lack a team, we devolve into a group of individuals who might happen to be working on similar things, but in a manner that is completely self-contained.  Our velocity suffers.  Our quality suffers.  Our happiness suffers.  Our product suffers.  Our company suffers.

Respect is the foundation upon which all of the other Scrum Values rest.  A lack of respect by any member of the team is something that simply cannot be allowed.  It must be addressed quickly, or the damage will be quick and lasting.

Lead by example.  Show every member of your team absolute respect during all of your interactions with them.  Truly listen to everything they are telling you, and ask questions to understand when you are not sure of something.  Value their input, because they probably have information you don’t.  Recognize that without each member of the team, dedicated to doing a great job for the team, the entire team would fail.

Respect breeds respect.  Give a lot, and you will get a lot. WIthhold it, and you will never get it. Without respect, at it’s deepest level, a team will never be successful, no matter what else you do.

Part IV
Part III
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.