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Scrum Values – Focus: What it means to the Scrum Roles?

Besides the practices, the Scrum Framework is built on five core values. These values play a critical role in the success of Scrum Teams and organizations, especially transforming the mindset from doing Agile to being Agile. The values guide different roles how to think, make decisions, and evolve.

The Scrum Guide mentions five values:

  1. Focus
  2. Openness
  3. Respect
  4. Courage
  5. Commitment

The Scrum Team members learn and explore those values as they work with the Scrum roles, events, and artifacts.

In this article, we’ll discuss Focus, what it means to different Scrum roles namely Product Owner, Development Team and ScrumMaster.

What is Focus?

As per Merriam-Webster dictionary, Focus means ‘a center of activity, attraction, or attention, a point of concentration’.

The focus in Scrum teams refers to the ability of the Scrum Team to remain concentrated on the goals or tasks without any distractions. It also indicates that whatever goals or tasks a Scrum Team embarks on, it strives to complete them. When Scrum Teams are focused, they are persistent in minimizing waste, achieve the determined goals in the least possible time, and eventually become more efficient.

Focus – what it means to a Product Owner?

A Product Owner’s focus should be like a CEO of the product itself. They should focus on the product’s business strategy, users and internal as well as external customers. They should have a product vision that is short, shared understanding and inspiring. They should focus on creating the business strategy that is worth inviting stakeholders, teams, and other individuals involved.

They should also be clear about the business goals – what the Scrum Team wants to achieve and what impact it will have on the organization. The Product Owner should also focus on creating the Product Backlog, which covers Value, Risk, Dependencies, and address the Time to Market. It is prioritized, focusing on what the organization needs, and what the users find valuable to be.

The Product Owner must also allow the Development Team to focus during the Sprint so that they are on course to achieve the Sprint Goal. Except for those market changes that might make the Sprint Goal obsolete which is not so often, the Product Owner must invest appropriate time towards a focused preparation; which eventually helps the Development Team to focus on the Sprint Goal and implement the Sprint Backlog.

Focus – what it means to a Development Team?

The Development Team should focus on completing a Sprint Backlog, meeting the Sprint Goals Sprint after Sprint which helps to meet the Product Vision in the bigger horizon. They should concentrate on completing the tasks, rather than starting too many and leaving too many to complete by the time the Sprint ends. Stop Starting – Start Finishing.

The Development Team should focus on becoming self-organizing and cross-functional. It should work towards turning the Product Backlog into Increments of potentially releasable functionality. The Development Team should focus on setting reasonable Sprint Goals, along with analyzing and allocating work that needs to be done.

Focus – what it means to a ScrumMaster?

A ScrumMaster needs to focus on the Development Team, Product Owner and the organization.

The initial focus of the ScrumMaster is on the Development Team. When the Development Team is forming and during the initial Sprints, the ScrumMaster needs to focus by spending considerable effort in training, facilitating, coaching and mentoring the Development Teams to become self-organizing and cross-functional.

The ScrumMaster also need to focus on removing impediments on a timely basis. Must be able to prioritize which impediments are cause heavy blockages, the removal of which will create more value and minimize waiting time for the Development Team members.

The ScrumMaster needs to focus on development or engineering practices. They need to make sure that suitable practices are introduced and implemented for continuous improvement.

The ScrumMaster’s focus on the Product Owner is to coach them to perform better in their role. This includes educating them on how to prioritize and manage Product Backlog; and facilitating interactions within the Scrum Team.

The ScrumMaster’s focus on the organization is to initiate a structural change. They need to make sure the entire organization is transforming to an Agile way of working. This implies that the ScrumMaster focuses on other Scrum Teams, management teams, customers and other stakeholders to help achieve the overall organizational transformation.

Focus – What it means to Scrum Events and Artifacts?

Here are a few elements that can help promote focus in Scrum.

  1. Focus on top of the Product Backlog to address immediate user needs.
  2. Focus on the Sprint Goal and not just the Sprint Backlog.
  3. Focus on the Done Increment by the end of every Sprint.
  4. Use Scrum Events as per suggested time-boxing limits so that it helps focus on improving efficiency of the participating team members.

Benefits of focus in Scrum

In Scrum, focus plays a critical role in facilitating collaborative teamwork and empiricism. Let’s take a look:

Minimize waste from WIP

Scrum Teams are effective when they work together instead of working independently on separate Product Backlog items. They finish one task and move to the next, thus, reducing waste from undone work and work in progress (WIP) by the end of a Sprint.

However, Scrum doesn’t tell you how to deliver. Focus can empower a team to discover those great practices that help them to minimize time and get things done sooner.

Improved prioritization

A team usually has a lot on the table, and sometimes, deciding what should be done first can be challenging. In case of such competing priorities, Focus helps a team decide what needs to be done first and what should be scheduled for later.

Accept uncertainty

A team can find itself in situations when the future seems uncertain. In such instances, the team should keep analyzing and look at what can be done today. Focus allows a team to accept uncertainty and learn from their experiences.

Improve the outcome

Focus allows the Development Team to focus on the overall outcome. It enables them to deliver the “Done” Increment and prioritize the overall outcome instead of focusing on what an individual can accomplish.

Helps product vision

Focus allows the Product Owner to have a product vision, business strategy, and business goals. The product vision can then fuel the team’s decision on a daily basis.


The Scrum value of focus is essential to guide the Scrum Team towards its goal. However, the concept of Scrum values is more than just understanding that they exist. Scrum Teamsand organizations should live them in their core work processes in order to maximize value from Scrum.


  1. Scrum Guide from www.ScrumGuides.org
  2. https://www.leadingagile.com/2015/05/the-power-of-focus/
  3. https://www.scrum.org/resources/blog/maximize-scrum-scrum-values-focus-part-1-5
  4. https://www.teamfocus.co.uk/consultancy-services/consultancy/team-development/

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