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The Importance of Zero-Talent Virtues in Agile Software Development

30 June 2016

Snehkumar Shahani
Government of India

The popular English proverb, "Where there is a will, there is a way," suggests the importance of a person's attitude over the person's talent. Evidently, if a person is willing to do something, he or she will find a way to do it. In Agile software development, we give more importance to people as compared to the tools/talent they are equipped with, which makes this attitude crucial.

I recently come across a popular meme on a social media website reciting ten virtues that require zero talent. These ten virtues are:
  1. Punctuality
  2. Work ethic
  3. Effort
  4. Body language
  5. Energy
  6. Attitude
  7. Passion
  8. Being coachable
  9. Doing extra
  10. Being prepared
These virtues undoubtedly depend more on the willingness and attitude of a person as compared to their talent. We brainstormed at our PlayScrum Vadodara group to uncover why these virtues are of prime importance and how each one of them is equally important to Agile software development. Based on the brainstorming session, we have identified the characteristics below for each of the ten virtues:
  1. Punctuality
    • To be on time is an essential factor for the Daily Scrum meeting.
    • Being on time is important because everything in Scrum is timeboxed.
    • By being on time we show our respect toward others’ time as well.
    • The sprint burn-down is tracked to ensure that the sprint deliverables are on time.
  2. Work ethic
    • Work ethic means a commitment to achieving the sprint goal before the end of a sprint and also to work diligently toward it.
    • By putting forth our best effort to produce value, we show our loyalty to our product/project.
    • We can maintain a good work ethic by maintaining the code of conduct.
    • An important ethic is to not leave technical debt behind. Refactor and improve quality on an ongoing basis.
    • Deliver only things that add value and further maximize the amount of work not to be done.
    • Another important ethic is to adherence to the Definition of Done.
  3. Effort
    • Effort is important to achieve the client’s needs.
    • Effort to ensure that the customer is satisfied includes not only delivering quantity but also delivering value.
    • For every sprint, make an effort to deliver some amount of working software.
  4. Body language
    • Body language should reflect that we care, pay attention, and respect others’ ideas.
    • Body language should also reflect that we value the views of each team member. Accordingly, nonviolent communication is a key practice to implement.
    • We should respect other team members’ viewpoints and patiently change, if something is wrong.
    • The most important point to note about body language is that we should avoid aggressive communication.
  5. Energy
    • Use energy to motivate yourself and keep others motivated.
    • Use of energy: It is important for Scrum team members to be energetic and actively participate in Scrum meetings.
    • Conservation of energy: For maintaining constant pace indefinitely, don’t burn out; conserve energy by having a sustainable pace of development.
  6. Attitude
    • Exercise a "can do" attitude to achieve goals.
    • Keep your attitude positive.
    • Learn from mistakes identified in the retrospective.
    • A "let’s try it" attitude is important for inspecting and adapting.
    • Show gratitude for others’ help and contributions.
  7. Passion
    If one has the passion for delivering value and making lives better, everything else naturally falls into place. Below are the different values, played out in actions, for which passion is the key to success:
    • Be Agile and valuing the Agile Manifesto.
    • Deliver quality.
    • Achieve sprint goals.
    • Deliver the best to the client and remaining self-motivated.
    • Provide added value.
    • Meet customers' demands by adding value at end of each sprint.
    • Satisfy the customer with each delivery.
    • Adhere to Scrum practices.
    • Improve productivity by adapting to minor improvements in daily practices.
  8. Being coachable
    • Learn from the retrospective and enhance your knowledge by learning from others.
    • Be open to suggestions from other colleagues within the team by maintaining a collaborative approach.
    • Be willing to be corrected and act on any mistakes.
    • Knowing that we are not perfect will make us more open to be coachable.
  9. Doing extra
    • Walk the extra mile to fulfill the commitments made for every sprint.
    • Deliver added attributes, such as higher quality and debt-free code.
  10. Being prepared
    • Be prepared to accept input from the end user, as life is too short to build something that no one wants.
    • The Scrum team must be prepared for change, because change is inevitable. The team should use the Scrum meetings to identify risks and plan to mitigate such risks.

Thank you to the following contributors to this article:
Anand Vyas, Anil Sharma, Bhavin Acharya, Chintan Sisodia, Deepak Joshi, Harit Pandya, Jay Pandya, Misha Vaidya, Rajesh Panchal, Sachin Patel, Satisha Venkataramaiah, Sneh Shahani, Vaibhav Dhingani, Vishal Shah

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: 3 (4 ratings)


Deepak Joshi, CSP,CSM,CSPO, 7/2/2016 11:00:38 PM
Well-articulated Sneh! Totally agree that its 'attitude' which is the stepping stone towards agility.
Anonymous, 7/16/2016 3:54:37 AM
Well said! Tx for the tips - will share further.

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