A Scrum value is OPENNESS and one of the Scrum pillars is TRANSPARENCY.  I was thinking lately about whether or not there are limits to how open and transparent a team should be. Part of what made me think of this was hearing a ScrumMaster say in conversation that what is in JIRA (or Rally, VersionOne, etc.) is “private” …meaning only the team would have access to it.

I immediately had a reaction to it because I feel that unless there are trade secrets or classified materials at risk, development work should be open and visible to not only the team, but business stakeholders and other developers not on the team.  Notice that I didn’t say editable…visible.  And why not?

  • Code repositories should be visible to anyone who cares enough to look at them.  Maybe someone will learn something from your code…gasp.
  • Documentation should be open and available.
  • And probably most importantly, product backlogs, sprint backlogs, dashboards, radiators like burnup charts should all be out in the open and available to anyone that cares enough to look at them.

The reality is that most people won’t care or have time to snoop through your user stories in Rally, but if they want to then let them do it.

I believe this type of openness will help encourage a much broader culture of openness and transparency.

Oh, and to those that argue to keep things private so that micromanaging managers or uninformed executives stay out of the team’s business…I say that by keeping things private you are hiding a much more damaging cultural characteristic.  One that will continue to make people feel “unsafe” and undoubtedly limit the organization’s ability to innovate and win.