Making decisions based on Scrum's values



Stage 3

Agile IQ® Level






Focus on empiricism and a plan for the next 24-hours instead of status reporting. Ensure the SM isn’t removing blockers, but instead helping the team to remove them. The Scrum Master doesn’t need to be at the Daily Scrum. They only need to ensure that this event occurs and the team members attend.

Scrum Values

Successful use of Scrum depends on people becoming more proficient in living five values: [1]

  1. Commitment
  2. Focus
  3. Openness
  4. Respect
  5. Courage

These values give direction to the Scrum Team with regard to their work, actions and behaviour.

Rules-Based vs. Values-Based Decision Making

Two approaches to decision making are rules-based and values-based.

When basing decisions on rules, we require prescriptive direction given to those in the organisation. Such an approach may have benefits (e.g.  lack of ambiguity where rules apply, faster application for new starters) but is detrimental if the organisation wishes to cultivate self-managing teams.

When decisions are based of values, individuals are empowered to utilise their own judgement. In managing traffic, traffic lights and roundabouts are analogous to rules and values-based decision making: [2]

  • Traffic lights – decisions are not made by those actively involved in the process, nor made on the basis of emergent information.
  • Roundabouts – decisions are made by those participating in the process, and made based on current information.

The latter is more consistent with Scrum values as we respect others to make value-based decisions, and have the courage to do so.

Team Charter

A Team Charter or Team Canvas is an excellent method for embedding values and behaviours within a team. [3] When constructing a Team Charter, the Scrum values should be incorporated within the team’s values, highlighting:

  • How do we behave at meetings? Should we encourage people to have the courage to hold each other to account to start meetings on time?
  • How do we make decisions and state our options?
  • Do we ask which options align more strongly with Scrum’s values?

Review the Team Charter at a Retrospective to assess whether it needs adjustments to more strongly encourage a values-based approach to team work.

What to Watch Out For

  • Immature teams need guidance and support for transitioning to value-based decision making.
  • Living the values may need to conflict within the organisation. Be aware of potential conflict and manage accordingly.
  • Leaders should speak up when there are behaviours inconsistent with Scrum values. This may relate to behaviours from managers. Some organisations are not culturally ready to question management.

Actions to Try

  • Provide examples of behaviours that embody values so that it is not simply an abstract concept for team members.
  • Celebrate and acknowledge actions that embody Scrum values. Kudo cards are one tool that teams can employ. [4]


1. Sutherland, J. & Schwaber, K. (2020) The 2020 Scrum Guide (TM).
2. Bogsnes, B. & Olsson, R. (2019) Beyond Budgeting – Business agility in practice.

4. Appelo, J. Kudo Box & Kudo Cards.
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