What are the Three Pillars of Scrum?

We will take a closer look at the three pillars, how they work together and why they are essential in the successful adoption of Scrum.

Understanding the Three Pillars of Scrum is important in order for Agile teams to maximise the use of the Scrum Framework. In this article, we will take a closer look at the three pillars, how they work together and why they are essential in the successful adoption of Scrum. The three Scrum Pillars are as follows: 

Transparency:
This is ensuring everyone in the team has a clear and shared understanding, helping to eliminate any confusion.

Inspection:
Inspections are done by every team member throughout the Sprint, meaning any issues can be spotted early and addressed with speed.

Adaptation:
Following inspection, improvements can be made to reach the Definition of Done. Continuous adaptations ensure better quality in the finished product. 

We will take a look at each of these in more detail next.

Pillar 1: Transparency

Transparency is the first of the Three Pillars of Scrum. What is meant by transparency, is that everyone should have a clear understanding of what is going on with the product. This should include all of the Scrum team and the various stakeholders. Everyone should strive to work collectively towards the Scrum goals which should also include a good understanding of the Scrum goals and what their individual roles and responsibilities are. 

Scrum artefact and events such as the Product BacklogDaily ScrumsBurndown Charts, the Definition of Done and Sprint Reviews etc. are key ways of ensuring transparency. These elements are useful to transfer the flow of work through cross functional teams and are one of the key advantages of using the Scrum Framework as they ensure visibility and transparency in terms of the team’s progression.

Pillar 2: Inspection

Inspection is the second of the Three Pillars of Scrum. This pillar focuses on the process and the product being regularly inspected, in incremental iterations. There is no one person responsible for this, in fact, everyone involved in the product should be involved in Inspection. This pillar is only possible if there is transparency, making the first stage crucial for the second stage. Inspection should be executed for the following: 

  • The product 
  • The process 
  • The people aspects 
  • Practices 
  • To support continuous improvements 

An example of this in practice could be the team showing the customer the product at the end of each Sprint to gather feedback. This kind of regular Inspection means that issues can be identified early and addressed with speed or before too much time has been spent working on them. If the customer changes the requirements during Inspection, the team should use it as an opportunity to collaborate with them to clarify the requirements and then to test out a new hypothesis. It’s common for changes to be made throughout the process and for requirements to evolve so this should be no issue for the team.

Pillar 3: Adaptation

The third pillar is Adaptation, which follows on from the first two pillars of Scrum. Adaptation in this context is about continuous improvement, in other words, the ability to adapt based on feedback generated during Inspection. This should eventually relay back to one of the reasons for adapting Agile, for example: 

  • A faster time to market, by reducing waste and wasteful work.
  • Ensuring the highest quality end result (the product that goes to market).
  • All customer requirements are met.
  • Improved customer and employee satisfaction.
  • Increased return on investment through value.
  • The reduced total cost of ownership through enhanced quality.

Who is Responsible for implementing the Three Pillars of Scrum?

It is not one single person’s responsibility and the whole Scrum team should be involved in the three pillars of Scrum. It is important to ensure the team takes care of each of the pillars and they can draw conclusions for future improvements. The Scrum Master should educate and guide the team through this to ensure they are using the Scrum Framework.

Summary

In summary, The Three Pillars of Scrum (transparency, inspection and adaptation) are essential if teams want to successfully adapt the Agile Framework. They should become a key element of organisational culture. While Scrum includes multiple tools, techniques and artefacts which offer practicality and uses, the Pillars set a solid foundation for work to be complete and are maybe one of the most important key concepts.

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