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May the Force Be with You

Scrum values explained

9 September 2015

Marko Majkic

Scrum and the Agile practices are important. They are good for establishing healthy habits and the discipline needed for the project's success. On the other hand, I've seen many teams putting Scrum into practice but still failing. I was thinking about this, talking to people about what they think and feel, and gathering all this information has resulted in very useful experience, one that I want to share with you.

There can be many reasons why people with good Scrum practices fail. I will not talk about surface reasons but, instead, I would like to take you on a slightly deeper dive. When talking about how deep something is, I will use Robert Dilts' Neuro-Logical Levels (NLL) model. I won't delve into explaining NLL itself because it would take too much space and time, but you can begin to investigate it here.
NLL.png Image 1 – NLL: Neuro-Logical Levels

Neuro-Logical Levels (NLL)

By examining this picture, we might easily conclude that the higher the level of comprehension is, the deeper the impact it makes. Therefore, when talking about values and beliefs, we are coming to some deep and intimate impact they have in our private and business lives. The effect the company culture and values have on the individual is described in many articles. But I want to talk about the effect of values on the software development process and the manifestation of Scrum values on the Agile/Scrum transition degree of success.

As you probably know, the Agile Manifesto defined what we, in the Agile world, value and what principles we respect and uphold. This led to many concrete Agile practices, which have resulted in improvements to many software teams. That's why the Agile Manifesto had a dramatic, positive effect on the software world. From these values came concrete capabilities, behaviors, and environments, which supported and were tightly aligned with these values.

If you look at the NLL pyramid, you will see that capabilities, behaviors, and environments are manifestations of the implemented values. With Scrum, more values are introduced. These values mirror Agile values and are fully compatible and aligned with them. If you can align yourself and your team with these values, and all of you truly believe in them, I'm sure that putting Scrum into practice will be much easier for you and for your team.

Below I highlight the Scrum values by using the FORCE acronym, which is easier to remember. Besides, I'm a loyal Star Wars fan, and since my early childhood, I always liked the way the Jedi Knights greeted each other with, "May the Force be with you." It seemed so noble and positive. And I really believe that there's something about a force in our lives, and for sure in Scrum.


  • Developers are focused on the development (technical stuff).
  • When more developers work together on the same tasks, the focus is on getting things done, not on personal agendas.
  • Daily Scrums bring the work and the details into focus.
  • By using the sprint backlog, we're focusing on the iterative or incremental chunk of a product that is fully developed and deployable.
  • Product backlog refinement brings user stories closer into the team's focus.
  • Sprint planning directs a deeper focus on the detailed technical implementation, splitting the focus of tasks even more.
  • The sprint retrospective focuses the team on concrete actions needed to improve.
  • Demos or reviews focus on the work delivered and working features, which elicits valuable feedback from the stakeholders.
  • The product owner is focused on the product backlog and bringing valuable user stories to a working state.


  • The Daily Scrum is open, inspiring the team to candidly share the details of work done and issues experienced.
  • The retrospective is a forum in which we openly speak about dysfunctions, issues, and suggested improvements.
  • The product backlog and sprint backlog are open to all participants and are subject of change.
  • We're open to all changes, and we openly give the pro and con arguments. We openly discuss and accept necessary changes.
  • Our work is transparent toward our stakeholders, and we share what we do in the demos. Also, we are open to all suggestions and ideas, which the product owner will filter for the final user stories.
  • The product owner openly accepts and discusses ideas about the product with the team.
  • We review each other's code and accept suggestions. That's how we learn and improve ourselves and team relationships.


  • We respect each member in the team. We place trust in other team members' work, we share the code, and we're open to code changes from the others.
  • We respect our product owner, fully trusting that she made the right decision for the product.
  • The product owner respects the team and trusts the estimations and the feedback regarding the product.
  • Stakeholders respect the team and the process and do not interfere in the development process, leaving the team to develop in peace. Also, by respecting the team, the product owner holds the team responsible for the code and feature quality.


  • We have no fear of conflict. We are forthright, but still polite (respect) toward our team members and stakeholders.
  • We are allowed and encouraged by each other to try new ideas, and there is no fear of failure. The sooner we fail, the deeper the learning, which is better for the product.
  • We bravely speak up if something is wrong with the process, the team, the product, or ourselves.
  • We have the courage to ask for help, if needed, because this is better for the product and the team. When we get the necessary help, we learn. We also learn by helping others.


(Instead of Commitment, as I would rather have an engaged than a committed team)
  • We believe in what we do. We believe that we are creating a product of great importance that will impact people. We are really engaged in creating and improving this great product.
  • We strive for technical excellence, and Agile practices help us meet this goal. We are engaged in constant improvement, in the technical area as well as in the process.
  • In all our ceremonies, we are engaged and we contribute.
  • We don't need commitment and promises. We are honest and we are sincerely engaged. Every day, we start our work with excitement and happiness, going through challenges and helping one another. We are getting things done, which raises the level of engagement for new work to be done.
I'm sure that you will find more examples in your Scrum and Agile life for implementing and following FORCE. I would be more than happy to hear them.

Opinions represent those of the author and not of Scrum Alliance. The sharing of member-contributed content on this site does not imply endorsement of specific Scrum methods or practices beyond those taught by Scrum Alliance Certified Trainers and Coaches.

Article Rating

Current rating: 4.3 (3 ratings)


Kapil Goel, CSP,CSM, 9/10/2015 10:45:50 PM
Good article Marco
Liked the FORCE... :)

Can you please bring some more idea on how NLL can help to be FORCE?
Marko Majkic, CSP,CSM,CSPO, 9/16/2015 3:19:22 AM
Hi Kapil, thanks for the comment and the question.

NLL shows levels of 'importance' in our inner view/conscious. We are perceiving values and beliefs more important than our environment and behaviour. Thats why principles and values are more important than practices. NLL is explanation for this and I wanted to bring out Scrum values and explain how they are manifested in Scrum practices, from values (4th level), through competences (3rd level) to behaviour/practices (2nd level) and environment (1st level).

I used NLL for personal and team coaching in several good ways, but, as I mentioned, this is a huge topic and maybe will be the subject of some other post.

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