December Dallas Recap: Scrum and the 3 Pillars

To wrap up 2014, we reviewed scrum and the three pillars of empiricism—a topic that could be considered foundational to deeply understanding the framework and one that is often overlooked in favor of focusing on practices.  From the Scrum Guide:

Scrum is founded on empirical process control theory, or empiricism. Empiricism asserts that knowledge comes from experience and making decisions based on what is known.

In order to do better today than we did yesterday, we need to not only learn new things but also remember what we’ve learned before. This topic offered a bit of something new and something old for our attendees.

DFW Scrum-AndyDFW Scrummer Andy McKnight presented the night’s topic and included a group game: without use of a thermostat, determine what types of things you would take into consideration to maintain the temperature in a 20×20 room. How would you inspect and adapt to maintain the temperature? The ideas from the group were quite creative!

A thermostat inspects and adapts, and it provides transparency. These are the three pillars of empiricism that are the basis of scrum.  According to Ken Schwaber and David Starr,

Opacity when inspecting an Increment is like covering a thermostat with a cold, wet washcloth. The thermostat doesn’t have the correct understanding of the actual room temperature, and would incorrectly initiate heating when it should be cooling.


Without transparent Increments, the stakeholders don’t have a correct understanding of what is actually happening, and may incorrectly take actions that don’t make sense.


In short, without full transparency, the ability of the teams to inspect and adapt effectively is lost.

Without empiricism, we run the risk of this:

I prefer meeting with fellow DFW Scrummers to enjoy this:

DFW Scrum-cupcakes

Thank you to everyone who attended our meetups in 2014. This year saw the expansion of our group with the addition of a second location, and more of our members helped by facilitating small group discussions, answering questions and sharing experiences, and presenting topics. We are blessed to be part of such a strong and thriving agile community, and we look forward to seeing you in 2015!


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