We already know that scrum is for complex problems and complex problems give you significant risks to prevent. Scrum deals with this risk with Empiricism and Lean Thinking. 


Empiricism means an experience-based approach, and it lies iteratively and incrementally of work. Lean is about preventing waste.

In other words, you make a small iteration (the sprint) in which you:

  • Have one or more output (the increments);
  • Inspect (Sprint review) the output (the increments) and the process (sprint retrospective), getting feedback and making experience;
  • With this feedback and experience, you adjust your way of work for the next iteration.

Adjusting the way of working based on experience is empiricism.

Making a small iteration, looking at the increments, prevents waste because you get early feedback on your work. This is Lean Thinking.

What the scrum guide state about this concept is that:

Scrum is founded on empiricism and lean thinking. Empiricism asserts that knowledge comes from experience and making decisions based on observation. Lean thinking reduces waste and focuses on the essentials.
Scrum employs an iterative, incremental approach to optimize predictability and control risk. Scrum engages groups of people who collectively have all the skills and expertise to do the work and share or acquire such skills as needed.

Scrum guide 2020 – Scrum Theory

Another important concept of empiricism is the three pillars of transparency, inspection, and adaptation. The Scrum Guide states that:

Transparency
The emergent process and work must be visible to those performing the work as well as those receiving the work. With Scrum, important decisions are based on the perceived state of its three formal artifacts. Artifacts that have low transparency can lead to decisions that diminish value and increase risk.
Transparency enables inspection. Inspection without transparency is misleading and wasteful.


Inspection
The Scrum artifacts and the progress toward agreed goals must be inspected frequently and diligently to detect potentially undesirable variances or problems. To help with inspection, Scrum provides cadence in the form of its five events.
Inspection enables adaptation. Inspection without adaptation is considered pointless. Scrum events are designed to provoke change.


Adaptation
If any aspects of a process deviate outside acceptable limits or if the resulting product is unacceptable, the process being applied or the materials being produced must be adjusted. The adjustment must be made as soon as possible to minimize further deviation.
Adaptation becomes more difficult when the people involved are not empowered or self-managing. A Scrum Team is expected to adapt the moment it learns anything new through inspection.

Scrum Guide 2020 – Scrum Theory

The best way to explain this three-pillar is by an example:

Example: You need to make your work visible to everyone, without any hidden information. For this reason, you can have all the project information displayed, for example, on a web page (visibility). People must inspect this information, looking if the project is going in the correct direction (inspection). If something goes wrong, people can change the project's direction (adaptation). In this way, you can have an experience-based approach, where you collect feedback and adapt based on it.

For the exam you need to remember that:

Scrum is based on Empiricism and Lean Thinking;
Empiricism is about an experience-based approach ;
Lean Thinking is about preventing waste ;
Scrum is an iterative and incremental approach. This helps to prevent risk; in addition, this approach reflects Empiricism and Lean thinking;
The three pillars are transparency, inspection, and adaptation;
Transparency is about making the work visible;
Inspection is about people who must inspect the work to detect a problem;
Without transparency, you didn’t have an inspection;
Adaptation is about fixing the process or the output of the process if it is unacceptable.

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