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Increase your transparency (2)

Transparency is one of the core values ​​of Agile and one of the 3 pillars of Empiricism.
Door: Natasja Spaans op July 20, 2021.
Read in: 3 minutes.

This is my second blog about the importance of transparency. In my previous one I spoke about a phenomenon that was new to me: the scope governance board.

Transparency is critical to the success of organizations and groups that embrace Agile. In Scrum we also have the Scrum events that help with transparency including the Daily Standup, Sprint Planning, Sprint Review and Retrospective meetings. These events give Developers, Product Owner and other stakeholders the opportunity to discuss issues and be honest and open. The events also give the Scrum team the opportunity to adapt and improve.

Why is transparency so important in agile?

Transparency in Agile cannot be overstated. In some organizations it is not easy to be transparent and open. There's a lot of pressure to say what the company wants to hear. But I believe that a lack of transparency damages an Agile team, the project, the organization and ultimately the company in the long run.

Lack of transparency has a negative impact in my view. In other words, transparency contributes to openness, respect and trust, not only within teams, but also between teams. I strongly believe in that.

Increase transparency in the scrum events

There are several steps that a team can take to increase transparency in the (Scrum) team.

Daily scrum

The Scrum Guide (2020) states the following about the Daily and the presence of roles other than the Developers:

“The Daily Scrum is a 15 minute event for the Developers of the Scrum Team. To reduce complexity, it is held at the same time and place every Sprint business day. If the Product Owner or Scrum Master is actively working on items in the Sprint Backlog, they participate as Developers.”

In other words, it is an event for the Developers and people who are actively working on the Sprint Backlog. In this way, possible miscommunications, dependencies and the sharing of best practices can be responded to immediately. If issues arise that need to be addressed, the people involved can continue the conversation together after the Daily. This way you keep the Daily effective, but you also keep the lines short and you prevent unnecessary work and miscommunications. In the event that the Scrum Master and the Product Owner do not actively participate in the Backlog, this event is therefore not intended for them.

Yet it has advantages to join the Daily as a Product Owner and Scrum Master. It is of course important that these roles do not interfere with the content and the 'how' of the execution of the work. After all, that remains the inspection moment of developers and people who actively work on the Sprint Backlog.

Sprint planning

The Scrum Guide (2020) says the following about the Sprint Planning:
The Scrum Team may also invite others to attend the Sprint Planning as an advisor.

Invite people from other departments or teams who have dependencies on the product you are building when a relevant topic is discussed in the Planning or the refinement. This not only increases your transparency about what you are working on, but also leads to shorter lines and better collaboration. The strength lies in jointly building a shared image of what the coming sprint looks like.

Product & sprint backlog

Both Backlogs represent a list of work that needs to be done for the product to be built. The Product Backlog contains the wishes for the future. The Sprint Backlog contains the wishes the team will realize this sprint.

There are several ways you can make this information available:

  • Give everyone who has an interest in your work viewing rights (and especially no more than that!) in your digital Product and Sprint Backlog.
  • Hang up the Sprint Backlog (or put up a screen where it is digitally displayed) in the room where you work together. Visualize the Sprint Backlog for your team to see on a daily basis. The advantage is that anyone can walk in to see what you are working on without having to ask the developers. Of course, this adds little value in this time when almost everyone works from home. So consider whether this is right for you at the moment or if another way suits you better.
  • Send out a newsletter! After the planning, close an email in which you share what the team will be working on in the upcoming sprint. And while you're still writing, the stakeholders would also like to hear about the results of the last sprint and whether there will be any important updates!

I hope I have inspired you to increase your transparency both within the team and beyond. And of course I am also curious, what are your success factors in increasing transparency?

Written by Natasja Spaans

The best thing about my role as a change guide is that I can help everyone to enjoy their work again. I do this by connecting people, celebrating successes together and experiencing small moments of happiness. Because alone you go faster, but together you get further!

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