Transparency, Past, Present, and Future
I decided to start public speaking a few years ago. The closest experience I have is teaching in my university as a visiting faculty member. I thought I didn’t have stage fear and could face the public, so it shouldn’t be difficult for me. I picked a topic on which I have proficiency and decided to do public speaking in front of my close friends. It was a good experience, not because I could shine, but got excellent feedback from my friends. I still remember the most common feedback everyone gave me was to slow down while speaking. Based on that feedback, my following public speaking was much better. I was lucky that my friends attended all of my sessions and not only appreciated me but didn’t hesitate to do the postmortem and give me feedback to improve on. Besides, even during the presentation, they keep giving me visual cues, such as “Smile,” “slow down,” “volume up,” “time check,” etc., to make it better. As a result, my speaking skills got better and better.
What is essential in this story? I initially thought that public speaking was the same as teaching, and I could apply similar principles. Soon after, I realized that I needed to learn and improve myself based on my friend’s feedback. This feedback loop allows me to inspect myself and adapt to achieve the desired result; this is an example of empiricism. The critical part of the process is the transparency of the feedback; even if I am willing to inspect the input and adjust myself, what if my friends praised my effort and didn’t tell me anything to improve. It is called transparency; in other words, transparency is a complete understanding of what is going on. Transparency is a precondition of inspection and adaptation. Inspection without transparency is meaningless . How comfortable are you to drive a car in heavy rain with broken wipers?
Transparency is so important that even Gunther Verheyen, scrum caretaker, shows transparency at the foundation level in the famous “Hous of Scrum” picture in his book . It is also one of the core values of the “Scaled Agile Framework” (SAFe) , one principle in “Large Scaled Scrum” (LeSS) , and even Mike Burrows mentioned it as one of the nine values of Kanban in his book . This is my favorite sentence from Stephanie Ockerman and Simon Reindl’s book “transparency is an antidote to unrealistic expectation.” 
Let’s explore the transparency little bit more detail with the same public speaking example. What if I didn’t inspect my current skillset? What if my friends give me visual cues but are not clear enough to understand during the presentation? What after the presentation, they provide me feedback for future public speaking without accurate information? These are examples of transparency in the past, present, and future, respectively. To get the optimal result, transparency needs to be present in all situations, past, present, and future.
Scrum’s artifacts are designed to maximize the transparency of key information . It is not surprising that Scrum has three artifacts to define transparency for past, present, and future work. The product backlog is a single source of truth for everything that may be included in the product. Product backlog makes the future work transparent. The sprint backlog is a set of Product Backlog items for the current sprint and a plan to create an increment. Sprint Backlog makes the current work transparent. Definition of Done, commitment for the Increment, provides transparency for the Increment for what is included in the Increment. Increment provides transparency of the past work.
Indirectly it also gives the answer that why Scrum has three artifacts, why not two or four or five etc.
- The Professional Scrum Team by Peter Gotz, Uwe M. Schirmer, Kurt Bittner
- Scrum Guide 2020 https://scrumguides.org/scrum-guide.html
- Scrum Pocket Guide by Gunther Verheyen
- Core Values https://www.scaledagileframework.com/safe-core-values/
- Transparency https://less.works/less/principles/transparency
- Kanban from the Inside by Mike Burrows
- Mastering Professional Scrum by Stephanie Ockerman and Simon Reindl