Creative Scrum: Defining the Outcomes

Getting clear about where you’re trying to go.

July 31, 2023
Chart for outcomes

Change is a journey. It can be complex and require perseverance. 

Sometimes it can feel like we're wandering in the wilderness of change. Outcomes can provide a beacon to direct us where to go. When done well, they also offer waypoints to see how far we've come.

This post if part of a Creative Scrum series where we explore the how to apply agile for creative teams.

Now that we found the problems to solve, what outcomes will guide our solutions? 

This step is easy to skip because we often don't know we've skipped it. We've found the problem, and the outcome is "fix the problem!!" Effective outcomes need more definition. 

Sometimes you just have questions about key Scrum terms. Download the Scrum terminology cheat sheet.

Outcome as a Destination

Continuing in the journey metaphor, I like to think of an outcome as a destination you can describe. The description is concrete and specific, with a texture you can feel. When someone describes the outcome, and you can close your eyes and see it, you have a well-defined outcome.

Let’s look at two examples of outcomes as destinations. 

Physical location outcome example. 

When we're on vacation... I'm relaxed, and the warm sun is shining on me as I listen to only the soft sound of the ocean. The agenda for the day includes some meals and rest. Everything else is optional. All the necessary decisions were made ahead of time, and now we can be present.

Can you see that experience in your mind? Can you feel the warmth of the sun and the presentness of no agenda? 

You want to transport people to the destination when they read your outcome.

Our creative team outcome example.

A year from now… Creatives will be working together in collaborative teams. Their leaders have clarity about what their team is working on and how to help them further develop their creative skills. The team is internally motivated and owns getting its work done. Stakeholders across our organization feel like we're part of their team and would describe us as a joy to work with. We're not just producing creative designs, but we're collaborating with others to solve problems. As a group, we are agile enough to respond to changing priorities and the needs and realities of our creative teams.

When someone describes the outcome, and you can close your eyes and see it, you have a well-defined outcome.

For those of us who like lists (really, who doesn't like lists?) let's break this outcome down further:

  1. Co-Creation 
  2. Effectiveness in Rhythm
  3. Ownership


We weren't working together. 

Most of the creatives were assigned work that they completed on their own. They often didn't know what others were working on, much less collaborating together.

With Creatives

Individuals can be creative and create. We can reach even higher levels of creativity when there are shared perspectives, insights and feedback. 

This collaboration among creatives working together was a crucial part of our desired outcome. A key feature of Scrum is the ownership and autonomys of the team. To successfully share the work, a team must work collaboratively. 

The Scrum framework provides an environment for creativity. 

With Stakeholders

It's also vital for us to be working together with stakeholders and product owners to solve the right kind of problems. 

Creatives are naturally problem solvers and are usually both good at it and enjoy it. 

Being asked to spend time and energy on something you don't think will be used because it doesn't really solve the problem is life-sucking. Sadly though, it was pervasive because requests were locked into a form of the solution without a good idea of where the problem was. And this is why we needed a new vision for stakeholder engagement.

Effectiveness in Rhythm

Life has natural cadences: days, weeks, months, seasons… We are designed to live in rhythm, which is why the rhythm and cadence of agile approaches like Scrum help teams get and stay in sync.

Two vital fruits of rhythm include

  • Relationships
  • Stewardship


It was already easy for people to feel isolated and disconnected from each other and from the vision. And the pandemic didn’t make that any better. But it did bring the need so clearly to the surface that it was unignorable. 

Change is a journey

Before the launch, many team members were skeptical about having a daily standup on Zoom, but it wasn’t long before they experienced the fruit of strengthened relationships.

Consistent engagement rhythms can reinforce and maintain both inside your team and across your organization.


Living in an era of distraction and attention marketing, it’s easy to lose focus.

A regular rhythm like the daily scrum keeps a team focused on what’s important. It provides transparency and space for evaluation, guiding the team to steward their capacity.

When you have to be honest with yourself and others about how you invest your time, you are, by nature, more intentional about it.

Creative Scrum not only establishes a cadence of delivery but one of evolution as the team leverages moments like retrospectives to grow.

By using user stories, you can say goodbye to the wasted time of working on the wrong thing.


We all know the experiential difference between having to do something and getting to do something, and this difference comes from where we perceive the locus of control. Is this something I’m choosing to do, or is someone else forcing me to do it?

Self-organizing teams are an essential concept in Scrum, and it was a non-negotiable in creative scrum. We needed our teams to experience both agency and accountability to be at their best. 

Outcomes can provide a beacon to direct us where to go

When they began to realize they had the freedom to decide how to reach the outcomes and were going to be held accountable for whether or not they reached them, you could feel the shift. 

They began to own the process, own the product, and own their professional development. The leadership was initially nervous about giving away more control, but the paradox is that when you give away this kind of control, you do much less pushing and much more guiding.

Action Plan

Selling the idea.

I’ve gotten a little ahead of myself in describing the outcomes. Our next stop on this Creative Scrum journey is the challenge of selling the idea of change to others

I’ve already hinted at both the challenges and eventual results.

Sorry for the spoilers. But I’ll go more in-depth into how I sold the creative Scrum concept.

Frequently Asked Questions

Scrum design

What are the three pillars of Scrum?

Scrum is founded on three essential pillars, and each leads the team to ask a critical question.

  1. Transparency. How does this make things more visible?
  2. Inspection. Where does this create space to evaluate?
  3. Adaptation. When does this encourage growth?

Learn how to apply the three pillars of Scrum and then explore the most common terms in a Scrum glossary.

What are the values of Scrum?

There are five values critical to the practice of Scrum: commitment, courage, focus, openness, and respect.

  1. Commit to achieving the goals of the Scrum Team.
  2. Courage to do the right thing and work on challenging problems.
  3. Focus on the Sprint's work and the Scrum Team's goals.
  4. Open about all the work and the challenges with performing the work.
  5. Respect each other to be capable, independent people

Learn how to align Scrum values with your organization and then explore the most common terms in a Scrum glossary.

What is the sprint goal in scrum?

The sprint goal encapsulates the product owner’s vision into a concrete statement for the development team to measure the sprint against. The sprint goal provides a theme for the sprint’s work helping the team see how all the parts come together. 

Learn more about the role of the sprint goal in scrum and explore the essential Scrum glossary.

Learning to apply Scrum

How to choose between Scrum and Kanban?

Important factors include your team size and the type of work you do. Kanban is very process-oriented, so you should consider how defined, static, or long your process is? 

You can explore Scrum and other agile approaches. Then browse the most common terms in a Scrum glossary and learn what is Scrum.

How does scrum help an organization?

Scrum forces clarity and prioritization, which are critical to organizational effectiveness. It provides a competitive edge by allowing teams to adapt as the market or priorities change. Teams operate more effectively because Scrum combines empowerment of the team members with alignment to top priorities.

Learn more about scrum’s impact on organizational culture. Then browse the most common terms in a Scrum glossary and learn what is Scrum.

Is scrum a methodology or a framework?

Scrum is more of a framework than a methodology, and it helps teams adhere to Agile principles and get stuff done. Scrum provides basic rules but doesn’t prescribe how to do the work. It provides principles, values, rules, and some core structure but still leaves a lot undefined.

Learn more about scrum as a framework. Then browse the most common terms in a Scrum glossary and learn what is Scrum.

What’s the difference between scrum and agile?

When people say “agile,” they usually refer to it as a mindset. Scrum is a framework for how to organize people and work in an agile way. If you’re practicing Scrum, you’re working in an Agile way.

Learn more about the relationship between scrum and agile. Then browse the most common terms in a Scrum glossary and learn what is Scrum.

Ready to level up your company? Get in touch today!