Embracing Transparency: The Key to Agile Scrum Success

The Agile Scrum framework comprises three pillars that form the right foundation enabling any team to embrace, commit to, and practice Scrum. These three pillars of Scrum are Transparency, Inspection, and Adaptation. It should be noted that each of these pillars enables the one that follows or depends on the one preceding it for its success. Any shortfall in the preceding pillar renders the next invalid and a waste of time and valuable resources. To put it into perspective, without transparency, any inspection will be misguided and futile. And what is the need to inspect, without adaptation to the outcome of the inspection? Hence, the three pillars must be carefully and effectively used hand-in-hand for the success of the team and the larger organization. This article will examine how each Scrum event results in Transparency, when done the right way.

During Sprint Planning, it is imperative to have a clear and common understanding within the team. This common understanding transcends all discussions during this event and resonates with all in the team. The team needs to agree on the goal for the upcoming sprint, which means 

  • Understanding what needs to be achieved and how to measure success.
  • Discussing specific tasks or items from the product backlog that will help reach goals
  • Determining how the team will be sure they reached the goal (Definition of Done and acceptance criteria), and how the value or increment will benefit the end users.

Additionally, the team should consider their past performance and make realistic forecasts about what they can achieve in the upcoming sprint. The team’s velocity and capacity should be clear enough to enable them to determine how many tasks they can reasonably undertake in each sprint.  

Transparency is a key concept in Scrum, meaning that everyone in the team should have access to the same information and understand it in the same way. This helps to avoid misunderstandings and ensures that everyone is on the same page. There is an undeniable need to have open conversations during Sprint Planning, which, in turn, helps to increase transparency and foster a common understanding among team members.

 In summary, the goal of Sprint Planning is to ensure that the entire Scrum Team, including the Product Owner, Developers, and Scrum Master, have a shared understanding of the sprint goal, how to achieve it, and what the definition of done and acceptance criteria are. There should be no confusion at all, when it comes to these discussions. By promoting transparency and open communication during Sprint Planning, the team can work together more effectively towards their common goal.


The Daily Scrum focuses on transparency and common understanding among developers. It aims to ensure progress towards the Sprint Goal is clear and that everyone knows what tasks will bring them closer to achieving it. The Daily Scrum prompts discussions on collaboration and the best steps to take each day. Developers, whether working on software or other projects, must share a common understanding to move forward effectively and to openly talk about any impediments to their progress. The developers should be honest about where they are at each time, with respect to reaching the sprint goal. Are we on course to reaching the sprint goal within this sprint? If not, why and how can the team get themselves back on track?

The main goal of the Daily Scrum is to have developers on the same page regarding progress towards the Sprint Goal. It encourages open conversations about tasks and collaboration to ensure everyone is aligned. Transparency is key in these discussions to foster a shared understanding of what needs to be done. The Daily Scrum serves as a platform for teams to discuss and collaborate transparently in otherorder to work effectively and reach the team’s goal (Sprint goal).


The Sprint Review inspects discrepancies, capabilities, features, and outcomes of the Increment, aligning with Sprint Planning and the Product Backlog. The Scrum Team and stakeholders owe it to themselves to be transparent during this event, in order to provide the right framework and basis for the attendant inspection, with stakeholders providing crucial feedback to inform the Product Backlog.

 The Sprint Review is not just a demonstration for the Product Owner but involves active involvement of key stakeholders to receive transparent feedback. This feedback is essential for the inspection process, ensuring progress towards the Product Goal is well-informed and aligned with expectations. The Sprint Review entails examining advancement towards the Product Goal to identify undesirable deviations in progress, emphasizing the importance of engaging in this practice. What is inspection without transparency? It is like trying to examine a pile of items while being blindfolded. Hence, there should be clarity when the Product Owner is discussing the current state of the product (As-is) and what the progress made by the team for that given sprint. Also, bearing in mind that the increment is continuous entails that the product owner takes the time to show how each increment lines up with previous increments. The Scrum Master facilitates discussions and serves as a true leader here through elicitation. The Scrum Master ensures the PO is absolutely transparent in making progress visible and transparent, giving enough time for Stakeholders to communicate their perspectives, insight, and expectations during this event. The developers should be transparent and open in answering questions and to any feedback from the stakeholders. The transparency in this key Scrum event grants due relevance to the stakeholders, with their voices being the key to the success of this event and the eventual path towards successful and efficient product and value delivery. Convening a discussion with the stakeholders and the team about the Product Goal which involves evaluating anticipated progress, status and existing variances is the aim of the Sprint Review. Suffice it to say that without transparency, this event is an utter failure!


 Consider the Sprint Retrospective. Everything is brought under a floodlight and a spotlight. What is subject to inspection? The Sprint in its entirety! Are there any specific objectives for individuals displaying deviations? Have there been any interactions that did not unfold as anticipated? Have there been any deviations in processes beyond the anticipated boundaries? How about the Definition of Done? Has the team achieved it? What tasks remain incomplete? Furthermore, have the agreed-upon enhancements from the previous Sprint Retrospective been implemented as envisioned? All of these inspections should be undertaken with absolute transparency,; else, the team’s progress will be stalled, and there will be a lot of technical debts as defects and deviations are hidden under the table for whatever reasons there may be. In Sprint Retrospective, names could be called, but, each individual member of the team should approach any such with the mindset of learning, not perceiving this as name-calling.

 While a team can rely on a qualitative assessment of these aspects, if data is accessible, it should be utilized. This underscores the significance of establishing clear goals and targets. Without agreed-upon targets, how can a team conduct a meaningful Sprint Retrospective?

 Who should engage in inspection? The entire Scrum Team: the Product Owner, the Developers, and the Scrum Master. Having collaborated throughout the Sprint, it now falls upon them to introspect and evaluate their own effectiveness. The team should embrace the culture of transparency and forward learning, so that this event will yield the utmost benefits.

As a Scrum Master, ask yourself, ‘does the Team scrutinize unwelcome deviations concerning individuals, interactions, processes, tools, and the Definition of Done? Do I serve as a true leader by doing the same with myself? Courage is certainly needed for an effective and transparent retrospective. It is little wonder then, that courage is one of the five principles of Scrum, and there is openness too, which both combine with respect to help keep this event transparent enough, yet cordial and positive. Do you remember too, that commitment and focus complete the five principles of Scrum, as the team’s focus and commitment to creating value frequently and to continuous change mean there is a great need for transparency during this event to ensure continued progress as the next sprint unfolds.

The Scrum Master should engage in a comprehensive discussion with the team regarding the entirety of the Sprint in terms of the effectiveness of individuals, interactions, processes, tools, and the Definition of Done.

Transparent, open, and honest self-reflection, examination, and comprehensive evaluation are the best way to improve, show commitment to change, and take a bold step in the right direction towards successful product delivery.


Scrum is based on empirical process control, with transparency being a key pillar. All information related to the project should be visible and accessible to everyone involved. Transparency promotes trust and informed decision-making. During each sprint, the team has various opportunities to be open in sharing ideas, in communication and collaboration amongst the team and stakeholders. Bear in mind that visibility is not just about what is seen, but about shared understanding amongst all. Even when there are deviations from goals, there should be a shared understanding of the state of a process, deliverable or a product. Each sprint provides formal opportunities to be transparent both in one-on-one meetings, and Team/group meetings. Transparency enables inspection throughout the Sprint so the team can take immediate action when needed.

In summary, throughout the Sprint, the Scrum Team should show courage and openness in brainstorming, collaborating, communicating and in all their dealings with one another. Transparency is borne, when the Product Owner is transparent in outlining the Product goals, benefits and Product Backlog Items and remains true to the team goal and objectives, while remaining transparent in his dealings with the stakeholders at large; the Scrum Master ensures guidance, coaching and facilitation has clarity, focus and serves as a true leader in protecting the team against external impediments and helping the team learn how to remove impediments from within, and the Developers remain committed to sharing knowledge, ideas, bringing all reservations to the table, helping one another at all times in reaching team goals and objectives, and outlining impediments and successes/wins.

Why not take the time to evaluate with your team what transparency means to them and what more could be done to assure transparency? Summarily, when the Scrum ceremonies/events are well-executed, the Scrum Team lives by the following ethical values to ensure transparency;: Sincerity, clarity, openness, truthfulness, fairness, accuracy, directness, forthrightness, honesty, and believability. Transparency gives birth to true and effective inspection, and then, the team can properly adapt to the right cause, resulting in innovation and continuous delivery of value to provide pain relievers to the end -users of a product.

#transparencyinscrum #scrumceremoniesandtransparency #scrumtransparency #driveteamprogressinscrum #scrumandcontinuousimprovement #Agilescrum


Steven and Jürgen from BoostYourScrum.com 


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