Scrum Pillars: Transparency Inspection Adaptation

Episode 139 - 19 Sep 2019

Remember to grapb your free ([Scrum Cheat Sheet].

We are dissecting Scrum to take a look at it piece by piece.

Today it’s the turn of three things that don’t even appear on this picture.

Not, that is, until I tilt the picture.

They’ve been there the entire time; underpinning, well, everything!

It’s time to talk about the Scrum Pillars: Transparency, inspection and adaptation.

Scrum Guide

Let’s start with a look at the Scrum Guide:

“Scrum is founded on empirical process control theory, or empiricism.”

What is empiricism? The Scrum Guide again:

“Empiricism asserts that knowledge comes from experience and making decisions based on what is known.”

“Based on what is known”. Doesn’t sound like a big deal, but we humans aren’t great at seeing things as they are.

We have a tendency to see things as we think they are…or see things as how would like them to be.

In Scrum - indeed in all of Agile - we are not big on research. Nor are we big on long term plans. Nor are we big on documentation.

It’s more about building something… and observing the result. Building something… in order to discover… Well, how things are. That’s empiricism again.

The Three Pillars

Back to Scrum, and back to the Scrum Guide.

Three pillars uphold every implementation of empirical process control: transparency, inspection, and adaptation.

What do the three pillars mean in the context of scrum?


For transparency, the Scrum guide provides a couple of examples:

A common language referring to the process must be shared by all participants; In other words, the members of the Scrum team should understand the Scrum process, each of the artefacts, each of the events… and have a clear understanding of their own rules and those of their colleagues.

Those performing the work and those inspecting the resulting increment must share a common definition of "Done".

Inspection and Adaptation

Inspection and adaptation go hand in hand in hand.

We inspect what has been done - “what is known” - and adapt (change) as necessary.

Each one of the Scrum events...

  • Sprint planning
  • Daily Scrum
  • Sprint Review
  • Sprint Retrospective

… is underpinned by the three pillars.

Given an appropriate level of transparency, each is an opportunity to inspect… and to adapt.