When talking about commitment in Agile, it is easy to focus on teams and techniques, such as the planning game and stand-up meetings, to the exclusion of the individual. It can feel like Agile is promoting collectivism. I actually had an especially philosophical student jump up in class and shout, “this is communism!” While most IT projects are team-based endeavors, teams developed from individuals plays a central role in making Agile techniques work. Committed individuals are the building blocks that create committed teams.

Individual commitment is a willingness to dedicate one’s self to a goal, and then to work as hard as possible to attain the goal. Commitment is so important that the Scrum Alliance (the entity that certifies Scrum masters, Scrum professionals and trainers) includes commitment in their code of ethics. To quote the code of ethics from the Scrum Alliance

“We take responsibility for and fulfill the commitments that we undertake – we do what we say we will do[1].”

When individual commitment exists then team commitment is possible.  Harnessing the assembled team of committed individuals becomes a coordination activity. Organization or project goals act as a guide to bring committed individuals together into committed teams.

Jeff Sutherland, one of the co-developers of Scrum says that “it is only when individuals and teams are committed that they feel accountable for delivering high value, which is the bottom line for software development teams[2].” Committed individuals are the building blocks for building committed teams. While teams are generally required for achieving results in software development, individuals are never optional.




[1] Agile Principles and Values, by Jeff Sutherland, 5/15/2013