Three Pillars of Empiricism in Scrum | Transparency, Inspection, Adaptation

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With an objective to enable continuous learning and progression for our learners, PremierAgile curated several learning articles in the areas of Agile, Scrum, Product Ownership, Scaling, Agile Leadership, Tools & Frameworks, latest market trends, new innovations etc...

The Three Pillars of Empiricism

The Three Pillars of Empiricism

Scrum is one of the most important frameworks of the Agile Methodology. As many organizations have stated that they use the Scrum Framework more than other frameworks, it is very important to understand the values and practices of Scrum to practice it effectively. The members of the organization who have implemented Scrum should clearly understand the principles on which Scrum functions. With growing job opportunities in the Agile sector, many people are hired every day who have to be trained to function according to the Agile environment. Professionals performing various roles and responsibilities have to follow the same principles of Scrum to achieve the best possible outcome. The roles in Scrum called the Scrum Master, Product Owner, Developer, and the Stakeholders, all depend on the principles of the Scrum Framework.

After understanding the principles of the Scrum Framework, the professional can clearly understand the practices performed in Scrum. A person with no knowledge of why they are performing a particular function and only know how to process a function does not understand the importance of principles in the Scrum Framework. If any individual has to become the best in their work, they have to understand "the why" of the work. And to understand why any task is done in the Scrum Framework, the person has to fully know the principles of Scrum. One of the chief principles involved in Scrum is the Three Pillars of Empiricism. This article elaborately describes these three pillars so that any candidate aspiring to become a Scrum professional or an existing Scrum professional can understand in detail about the Three Pillars of Empiricism of Scrum.

What is Scrum?

Scrum is an iterative approach to developing and delivering products to customers according to their requirements. Scrum approach is lightweight, simple to understand, and difficult to master framework for professionals who are implementing and managing it in their organization. There are various roles in Scrum called the Product Owner, Scrum Master, and the Developer. The Product Owner is a professional who understands the requirements of the customers and anticipates the needs of the product. They are involved in the business side of the product and research/analyze the current market trends. They create a vision for the product and communicate with the Developer to achieve them.

The Scrum Master is a servant leader that facilitates various Scrum meetings such as Sprint Review, Daily Standups, Sprint Retrospective, and Sprint Planning. Sprint is a short, time-boxed period where the Scrum Team completes a set of Product Increments such as User Stories and epics. The Scrum Developer is the core and backbone of the Scrum Team. They perform all the operations of the product development. They collaborate with the Product Owner to understand the requirements of the customer and create the products. The team also communicates with the Scrum Master and resolves any impediments that hinder their process of development. Hence, with the collaboration of the Product Owner, the Scrum Master, and the Scrum Developer, the product development takes place with productivity and creativity.

The Three Pillars of Empiricism

The process of Scrum is simple to understand, but when it comes to mastering the Scrum Framework, it may be difficult to manage. It requires transparency, inspection, and adaption to achieve the best possible outcome by using the Scrum Framework. These three values or virtues in Scrum are called the Three Pillars of Empiricism. Working in a fact-based, evidence-based, and experienced-based manner is called Empiricism. Scrum Framework does not believe in fictitious plans and works and progresses based on the observations of reality. Organizational agility and Business can only be achieved by having a change in the mindset and cultural shift in the organization. Scrum emphasizes that by implementing these three pillars called transparency, inspection, and adaption, it can create the right product desired by the customer and also create an Agile environment in the company. Hence, Scrum believes that learning from the past mistakes and experiences and improving the framework is one of the main methods of growing and creating valuable products for the customers and gaining high revenue and return on investment for the company. Let's understand each of the pillars in detail to understand the Scrum Framework, its principles, and practices.


Transparency is one of the first pillars of Empiricism. It means that all the facts of the product development process are present as is in front of everyone involved in the operation. These individuals involved are the customers, all the members of the Developer, the Product Owner, Scrum Master, the Stakeholders, the CEO, and other individual contributors. All of the members of the organization are transparent with their day-to-day dealings with others as they trust each other and have faith in the other person's work. The members of the team have to follow transparency to have the courage to keep each other abreast of the good news and the bad news.

The Scrum Guide suggests that significant aspects of the process should be visible for all the members of the team who are responsible for the outcome. If a process has to become transparent, it requires the aspects of the process to be defined by a common standard such that the observers share a common understanding of what operations are being seen. Giving the following examples, the Scrum Guide further explains:

  • All participants must share a common language to refer to the process.
  • The definition of "Done" of those performing the work and those inspecting the result should be a common one and should be shared by both.

All of the team members have the right to know about the agenda of the product. They should also understand the product roadmap and must share a similar long term vision for the product. Everyone strives and collectively communicates to achieve the organizational objective and no one has a hidden agenda for the product development process. Transparency promotes a sense of trust among the members which makes them a better team as they understand what each one is working on. This way they can also anticipate their work plan by the work plan of other members of the team. As each person works to achieve a common goal, it becomes easier for people to help one another and make the project a success.


Inspection is a process to evaluate the work done by the Developer. It not only involves the products developed by the team, but also includes the processes, people aspects, practices, and continuous improvements of the product. In this context, the inspection is not an evaluation done by the inspector. It is an assessment performed by every individual on the Scrum Team. Not inspecting the previous work performed and keeping on moving forward with the work, will only make the team perform the same mistakes that may have been performed previously. Hence, inspecting everyone's work, the process, and any aspect for the improvement of the product would drastically increase the chances of a valuable outcome at the end of the Sprint. Scrum users are frequently required to inspect the Scrum Artifacts and progress towards a specific Sprint Goal such that undesirable variances can be detected. Inspections, however, should not be so frequent that it interferes with the work. Skilled inspectors are the best person to diligently perform inspections such that most of the benefit is achieved without hindering the work process.

Let us understand this with an example. The Developer transparently and openly shows the product at the end of the Sprint to the customers so that they can gain valuable feedback to improve their products. This gives the developers to understand where they have gone wrong and make sure that a similar mistake would not be performed while developing the product. Inspection should be taken in a positive aspect by every individual as it is an opportunity for the person to grow as a Scrum Professional and become the best version of themselves. And at the end, even if the customers change the requirements of the product during the inspection, the team adapts the product by treating it as an opportunity to collaborate with the customer and clarify the requirements. Hence, inspection becomes an integral part of the improvement of the product, processes, and also people.


Adaptation in the context of Scrum product development is regarding the continuous improvement of the product. It is defined as an ability to improvise or adapt to the feedback or results of the inspection. Agile Methodology has always been supportive of adapting to changes. In Scrum, even if the customers require a change in the requirements, it is considered and incorporated in the next Sprint. Whenever an inspection yields few changes to be made to the product, it is taken as feedback and integrated into the next Sprint cycle. Whenever an inspector determines that a few of the aspects of the process deviate outside the acceptable limits, it results in the product being unacceptable. The material or the process which is being processed must be adjusted as soon as possible to minimize any further deviation. Hence, adaptations are very important for the Scrum organization to grow and produce effective outcomes.

Everyone in the organization should always ask this question regularly: Are they performing better than they did yesterday? For organizations that are based on profit, the value of the company is represented in the profit it makes by developing the product. The adaption should eventually achieve one of the reasons that were considered while implementing Agile. Reasons such as the increased return of investment through value-based delivery, faster time to market, the reduced total cost of ownership through quality enhancer software, and improved customer and employee satisfaction.


The Scrum is an empirical approach and religiously follows the Three Pillars of Empiricism for the success of the project. This means that Scrum believes that the process of development can be improved by learning from past experiences and mistakes in real-time and not only by forming hypothetical assumptions or imaginary work plans. Scrum does not work merely based on that it has three roles, three artifacts, and five events; it works because it adheres to the underlying Agile principles of iterative, value-based incremental delivery which is achieved by gathering the customer feedback and accepting changes. Adhering to the Three Pillars of Empiricism is one of the main reasons why companies have chosen the Scrum Framework to adopt Agile Methodology in their industry. Other benefits such as faster time to market, increased customer responsiveness, enhanced software quality, ability to change direction by managing priorities, better delivery predictability, and improved risk management are a few of the reasons why Scrum has been successful in many organizations.




Useful Links:

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Is a passionate learner and blogger on Agile, Scrum and Scaling areas. She has been following and practicing these areas for several years and now converting those experiences into useful articles for your continuous learning.