Scrum Value Openness Starts with Vulnerability


Last time, I showed how courage starts with vulnerability. If you haven’t read it yet, take a few minutes and read it. As a quick refresher, vulnerability is,

Uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure,

I’m going out on a limb here and saying that another Scrum value, openness, starts with vulnerability as well. Openness is defined as Scrum team members and stakeholders,

…[being] open about all the work and the challenges with performing the work.

The wording here doesn’t pack the punch that this value deserves. I’ll give an example as an idea of what is meant here. Openness is,

…telling your client that y’all screwed up, and you’ll have to either renegotiate the release scope you promised, the release date you committed to, or maybe both.


…stakeholders telling a Scrum team they over-promised for a release date to get a sale, AND they do not blame the Scrum team for their mistake.

Now do you get the picture?

Openness is crucial to high performing Scrum teams. The 3 pillars of an empirical process control framework like Scrum are:

  • Transparency
  • Inspection
  • Adaptation

In short, to be¬†agile you must be able to adapt to an ever-changing environment. To adapt, you must frequently inspect that environment in order detect undesirable variations. In order to inspect your environment, significant details of it must be transparent to you and others. Scrum teams without transparent access to what’s happening around them will flounder and possible fail completely.

This makes an intuitive sense; however, the practice is always harder than the plan. In practice, this requires significant levels of trust amongst the Scrum team members, with their organization, and with clients. Risking openness without such trust takes a level of audacity, courage, or maybe even naivet√© at times. One thing is sure, to begin a practice of openness, someone has got to get vulnerable first. I find that opening up will many times encourage others to do the same. If you are still uncomfortable being vulnerable, then it looks like you’re stuck until someone else steps up to lead.

How might practicing openness change the way your Scrum team works?


Jason is a developer, Scrum Master, writer, teacher, coach, husband, father, and community leader out of Tulsa Oklahoma. He's been delivering software since 2007 and absolutely loves the values and principles of agility especially as given form by the Scrum framework.