Agile Mindset

Agile Mindset Over Scrum Mechanics

There’s a funny thing with us humans.  Sometimes we get so occupied with the “what” that we overlook the “why.”  Take the stand up.  Tell us what you did yesterday, doing today, and what obstacles are in the way.  But WHY are you there?  This is the difference between understanding the mechanics of scrum and embodying an agile mindset. So here’s my why’s. Yours may vary.

Sprint Planning

This is our last responsible moment.  We’ve put off making a decision as long as possible about what we should do next, and now it’s time to decide.  It’s the entry point for work into our sprint backlog and the opportunity for the team to predict how much work can be completed by sprint end.  We should walk out of this conversation with a vision of what we’re doing over the course of the sprint and a set of goals that unifies us as a team.

It embodies this agile principle: “Welcome changing requirements, even late in development. Agile processes harness change for the customer’s competitive advantage.”

Daily Stand Up

Let’s talk about how we can help one another.  Additionally, I’ll commit to completing a measure of work for tomorrow, and I’ll tell you if I met yesterday’s commitment.  The best conversations will occur after we wrap up as we pair up to determine the specifics of how we can meet our daily goals as a team.  Just as user stories start conversations about requirements, the stand up starts conversations about teamwork.

It embodies this agile principle: “The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation.”

Sprint Review

This is our opportunity to fail fast and fail early.  Will the customers or stakeholders agree with how we solved their problems?  Will they disagree and tell us how we can improve our product?  Where the stand up is our opportunity to sync as a team, the review is our opportunity to sync with our customer.  It is also a forcing function to ensure we’re delivering software that works.  No smokes and mirrors here.  No lipstick on our pig.

It embodies a few agile principles:

  • “Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software.”
  • “Deliver working software frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference to the shorter timescale.”
  • “Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project.”


We demonstrated a kick ass product at the review, but how did it feel getting there?  Being the best, fastest, smartest team is not a destination. It’s a journey.  This is our opportunity to reflect on the sprint, but stay focused on the process, the pain points, and the learning opportunities.  Save chatter about the product for another time.  Be open, honest, and candid with one another.  We should walk out of our retro with a better understanding of ourselves as individuals, ourselves as a team, and with actionable ways we want to improve together.  We’ll hold each other accountable to these improvements next sprint.

It embodies this agile principle: “At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly.”

Remember that scrum is an implementation of the Agile Manifesto.  It’s the agile mindset that matters more than the mechanic itself.  Finally, I doubt anything in this blog post is groundbreaking, earth shattering, or even inspiring.  Instead, it serves as a reminder and also a challenge. Think your team members can describe the intent of your events?  Find out.  I bet you’ll be surprised.

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14 thoughts on “Agile Mindset Over Scrum Mechanics”

  1. Well done Tanner! Clear and to the point! It’s so important for teams to understand the why of Scrum, and you’ve done a nice job of articulating this in a nice concise way. Mindset is the key. Without it, teams are just going through the motions and not realizing the full benefits of agile. Keep up the good work!

    1. Thank you. The word agile is often thrown around in tech when I fear not enough know what it truly means. Or know what it looks like in action.

  2. I wish, I read this couple of days back when one of my friend asked me if dev. team are reluctant in attending the ceremonies and they feel its just utter waste of time. How do we pass on the importance of the message.

    1. I believe that every good Scrum Master should be intimately familiar with the why’s of every facet of the work. Ceremonies were emphasized here, but why estimate? Why have a cross-functional team? Why should user stories be written from the customer’s perspective? The list is endless.

      I’d encourage you to create a list of everything you believe a good agile team does, and then go through that list and articulate why you do each. Have someone tell you where your defense is weak and where it’s strong, then iterate and improve.

      Now, how do we get the message out? Share this blog post. I won’t mind the extra traffic one bit. 😉

  3. I love this post. It’s a good reminder and I like the connections you make with the Agile Manifesto..

    Just have a bone to pick with the closing: “Remember that scrum is an implementation of the Agile Manifesto.”

    It can’t be.

    The Scrum framework predates the Agile Manifesto by quite a number of years.

    The Scrum framework was first presented by Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland in 1995 at the Business Object Design and Implementation Workshop held as part of Object-Oriented Programming, Systems, Languages & Applications ’95 (OOPSLA ’95) in Austin, Texas.[13]

    The Agile Manifesto was written in 2001.

    1. Hey, Marjan. You’re not the first to point this out. I’ll borrow from another comment of mine to defend myself. 😉

      Even before the manifesto was crafted in 2001, didn’t it exist in the minds of people like Jeff, Kent, Ron, and so many others? I remember seeing an interesting corollary not long ago:

      “Was math discovered or invented?”

      I think math was discovered as I think agility was discovered. In this sense, history plays a lesser role when I say that Scrum is an implementation of agile.

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