Golden Circle Theory with SCRUM Practices

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Why, How and what with SCRUM?

We all have been studying/doing/practicing Scrum ceremonies for years now and we all agree that, the Scrum ceremonies are key for the teams and projects success.

I have been working with teams in my organization with regards to Scrum adaption and implementation, as a part of team enablement or training, I thought of applying a different training technique, to understand and learn about Scrum practices/ceremonies. The best I could think of was Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle Theory.

What made me to think of using the golden circle theory, were few of my following observations working with Scrum teams, every scrum team in my organization knew ”What” they do as a team, with respect to scrum practices and some of these Scrum teams knew “How” to do it and this very factor made these Scrum teams special from others in organization, as last very few scrum teams knew “Why” they are doing what they are doing? That’s the outcome or results they are deriving at and it’s the whole purpose of adapting the scrum way of working and scrum transformation.

Here are the ceremonies with respect to ‘Why, How and What’ behind it….

  1. Sprint Planning
  2. Daily stand-up
  3. Sprint review
  4. Retrospective

Let’s look in details for one of the Scrum practice as an example….

  • Sprint Planning: An event where the team collaborates on the work to be completed in that particular sprint. Entire Scrum team participates in the sprint planning event.

Why we need it:

  • To understand and establish the sprint goal(Outcome)
  • Commit to the user stories that help us achieve the sprint goal
  • Derive at sprint backlog(Output)
  • To discuss and define the sprint goal

What and How we do it:

  •  The scrum master, Product owner and agile team are part of this meeting.
  • The Product owner talks about the highest ranked user stories from the product backlog
  • The agile team derives at the steps required or tasks necessary to complete the committed user stories
  • Planning continues while the team can commit to delivery without exhausting or exceeding the capacity.
  • Sprint Planning is time-boxed to a maximum of eight hours for a one-month Sprint.
  • Sprint planning answers two things: What can be delivered in the Increment resulting from the upcoming Sprint? And How will the work needed to deliver the Increment be achieved?

Why we need it:

  • Stand-up unifies  team
  • Team holds each other accountable for their commitments
  • Teams are transparent about the challenges, success stories and failures
  • Respect for individual irrespective of their position and performance
  • Stand-up meetings help team to focus on few
  • Team helps each other

What and How we do it:

  • Tell about “What you accomplished yesterday”, “What are you planning to accomplish Today” and “Obstacles/impediments which are blocking you to perform”

Try using the following format:

  1. What did I accomplish yesterday?
  2. What will I do today?
  3. What obstacles are impeding my progress?
  4. Any other discussions to be taken offline after the daily stand-up
  • We walk the wall- talk our cards
  • Meet at workspace before your scrum/Kanban board, so that you can update the board as you talk.
  • Time the meeting to <= 15mins
  • Rotate the facilitator based on the agreed upon rules. (Every 3 sprints)
  • Don’t wait for the entire team
  • Team should be prepared ahead of the meeting
  • Have agreed rules about who speaks when
  • Avoid talking about technical details in the stand-up
  • Core team, BA and PO/PPO to be part of the daily stand-up



  • Sprint Review:  Sprint review is simply the meeting where the team demonstrate the work done or functionality built during the sprint.

Why we need it:

  • To inspect and adapt the work done during the sprint.
  • Assess the work done against the sprint goal, which was agreed upon during the sprint planning.
  • Make sure the team delivers a potentially shippable product increment or working software

What we do:

  • Setup the expectation at the star of the meeting, with regards to what will be demonstrated.
  • The team members will demonstrate the new functionalities built/developed in the current sprint.
  • Can also talk and discuss about the upcoming product backlog.

How we do:

  • Either product owner or Scrum master will facilitate the sprint review meeting.
  • Can last up-to 2hrs for a 2 week sprint.
  • Entire team participates in the meeting
  • Close the meeting thanking every participant.



  • Retrospective: At the end of every sprint, the scrum team reflects on how work more effectively and adjust their actions and behavior as needed.


Retrospective Prime Directive

It’s crucial to have an open culture in an agile retrospective, where team members speak up. In his book Project Retrospectives Norm Kerth defined the Prime Directive, it’s purpose is to assure that a retrospective is a positive and effective event:


Regardless of what we discover, we understand and truly believe that everyone did the best job they could, given what they knew at the time, their skills and abilities, the resources available, and the situation at hand.


Why we need it:

  • It helps in continuous re-learning and adaption, which results in continuous improvement.
  • It helps in risk identification at early stages of the sprint
  • Upliftment of team spirit
  • It helps in creating trust and transparency among team members.

What and How we do it:

  •  The retrospective is a bi-weekly recurring Scrum retrospective for team (2 week sprint).  
  • Discuss about what worked well, what did not work and what can be improved.
  • Entire team participates in the meeting, including product owner
  • Scrum master facilitates the meeting and captures the action items from the meeting.
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