The Scrum framework is based on three pillars: Transparency, Inspection, and Adaptation. We call it the empirical process. Trust and courage are required to enable Transparency. To implement Inspection and Adaptation – Transparency is crucial.
In the environment of distrust, applying the Scrum framework might be more complicated than in a healthy organization.
People are frustrated with such a situation. Many of them want to make changes to increase Transparency. They often ask me how to overcome it.
The majority of people reported that in their companies, the level of Transparency is shallow. What does it mean?
Some symptoms that you can easily verify in your organization:
- People are afraid of sharing the current state of their work (in Scrum Teams, it may concern the Increment).
- People are punished after showing the current of their work or reveal some information.
- Information is kept hidden internally.
- Stakeholders, especially customers, are given only positive information about the product. The real state of the product is hidden.
- Top management and middle management decisions are kept in secret, information is managed to whom, when, and to what to uncover.
- Departments compete with each other instead of cooperating. Relevant information is not spread.
- Politics is present.
What is the result of such a situation?
- People do not share their opinions; lack of trust may result in a lack of employees’ engagement.
- No environment for making changes (any).
- Lack of Inspection and Adaptation.
- Stakeholders/Customers may lose trust, and dealings might be insular.
- The current state of the Increment or the whole Product might be illusive. People may make wrong assumptions about the state of the Increments and the entire Product.
- Low level of integrity in the company.
- Lack of focus on value and people (including customers). You may observe a focus on delivery.
- Politics in the organization causes employees frustration and sometimes even fear, manipulative behaviors, the traditional model of the organization, hierarchy.
- Technical debt might increase due to the lack of Transparency and fear amongst employees or lack of acceptance of technical improvements.
- No allowance for designing experiments, failing, and learning.
- Disagreement or conflicts between departments.
- Low level of direct communication with stakeholders/customers.
Interestingly, some people strive for Transparency in these environments. Still, they have enough engagement and energy to smooth the path for Agility.
I observe how much those efforts are stressful. Some people reported fear of being fired or moved to another team.
What can you do if you recognize yourself working in this condition, yet still want to change it?
Regardless of your role in the organization, you can always do something towards Transparency.
Based on the Scrum framework and my experience gained during the last years, I would advise: