A Visual Guide to Scrum Methodology

The Agile approach can most often be found in organizations that create real business value by starting from the concept and championing empiricism and continuous improvement. As the saying goes – "Agile is not a thing you buy, Agile is a thing you are." Nor is it something you can do, but rather it is a way of thinking.

To make this mindset easy to understand, let me share with you some useful visual guides. 

During my career as an IT professional, I have consistently noticed that it is much easier to understand and remember information if we can visualize it.

While working in various positions and cooperating with clients from various size companies, I found visualizations of information everywhere. Wherever there is transparency and a mutual understanding of specific topics, there are visualizations, as they help to ensure effective communication. 

As I deepened my knowledge of cooperation and communication within teams, I also became engrossed in the Agile methodology. I wanted to find out more about how organizations that considered Agile crucial for their development transformed the mindset of management into one that embraced the agile methodology. 

So, bringing my interests in both visual tools for communication and the Agile methodology together, I created this guide to help you understand a key approach in Agile – the Scrum Framework. 

The Scrum Framework

When there is a need to create something from scratch, it is good to have an action plan, but in the world of VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, Ambiguity), precise plans do not work. In this case, the Agile approach works perfectly.

One of the Agile approaches is Scrum, a "lightweight framework that helps people, teams, and organizations generate value through adaptive solutions for complex problems."  Although Scrum can be used in literally every area of life, it is most often used in creating software solutions.

While you can easily find versions of the general outline of this framework online, one of which is presented in Image 1, this is often not sufficient on its own to transform how an entire team thinks about project management and software development.

Scrumorg-Scrum-Framework-tabloid1-1

Download image 1 here

In the world of Agile, there is a perception that the Scrum Framework is "light, easy to understand, difficult to master." The authors of the Scrum Guide admit that "the Scrum Framework is purposefully incomplete, only defining the parts required to implement Scrum Theory.”

What’s more, the diversity of organizations, teams, and experiences results in the emergence of equally diverse interpretations that only work for a specific implementation of the Scrum Framework. Unfortunately, these different interpretations often cause deviations, and thus non-compliance with Scrum principles.

The Elements of Scrum

If you are wondering "what exactly is Scrum, and is it simple or not?" The answer is simple – the Scrum Framework is not rocket science. For a basic level of understanding, Image 1 is enough as it gives a good overview of how the Scrum Framework works. The Scrum framework is an iterative approach, which means that its elements are repeatable and the whole thing has a loop, which in Agile is called interaction, and in Scrum it is represented by Sprint, which is shown at Image 2.

Scrum Framework - mnemonic 2-1

Download image 2 here

However, if you want to go a step further and understand its elements, look at Image 2, it is worth knowing what actually happens during the Sprint, as well as why, how, when, and who is responsible for what. The answers to these questions are presented in Image 3

Scrum Framework - mnemonic 3-1

Download image 3 here

As you can see, Scrum really is light and simple! If you need more information about elements of Scrum, see image 4

Scrum Framework - mnemonic 4-1

Download image 4 here

Diving deeper into methodology

However, there are often discrepancies in the way that Scrum is implemented as the “owners” of the implementations don’t have a shared understanding of specific processes in the methodology.

For people who want to thoroughly understand the dependencies in Scrum, I recommend the diagram presented in Image 3, which I prepared to support the agile transformation of an international client from the insurance sector.

I created this illustration because people new to Scrum, and even those who have devoted their time to read the official guide, often find it difficult to imagine the dependencies in the framework. This consequently leads to building wrong assumptions that will contribute to the incorrect implementation of Scrum in teams, with the success of the transformation hanging in the balance.

Scrum Framework - mnemonic 5-1

Download image 5 here

I truly believe that mutual understanding of a given topic significantly facilitates team communication.

I hope that visualization of my interpretation of the Scrum Guide will be helpful for you as well.

I look forward to your comments and ideas on how to improve this visual tool.

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