Quick and Easy: This Is New in the Scrum Guide 2020

Annalena Simonis, Thursday 03 December 2020 | Reading time: 6 min.

Scrum is the agile project management method. Just in time for their 25th birthday, the inventors Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland published an update of the guide to the management method - the Scrum Guide. Find out here what's new.

The creators of Scrum, Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland, developed the concept in the early 1990s. In 2010, they published the first Scrum Guide, a guide to the method with the intention of providing people, teams and organizations with a framework to master complex tasks and create products with the highest possible value. You can read all the basics about the agile method Scrum in this blogpost: The Scrum Methodology. A lot has happened since the first release, which is why the two inventors are constantly working on their concept and regularly publish updated editions of the Scrum Guide - the last one in 2017. In this blog post we will show you what changes have been made in the latest version of November 2020 with the title "Scrum Guide 2020 - The Definitive Guide to Scrum The Rules of the Game".


1. Less prescriptive

Scrum itself describes the development of the Scrum Guide in recent years as rather strict. This has been changed and Scrum is going back to the roots of the original concept. The new version makes Scrum a very minimalistically formulated framework that is suitable for a wide range of people and applications. This is why a large part of the prescribed language has been changed or removed to minimize the original reference to IT or product development terms. Examples of this: 

  • Daily Scrum questions were removed
  • simplified language around PBI attributes and retro positions in the sprint backlog
  • Shortened paragraph for sprint cancellation
  • and much more

With this step, Schwaber and Sutherland solve the discussion about the possible fields of application of Scrum and simplify the applicability outside the software development environment.


2. One team, one product

This change mainly eliminated the concept of the teams within the team, which regularly led to confusion among users. The danger of promoting a contrary "us-versus-them" mentality within the team was considered too risky. From now on there is only one Scrum team that focuses on one goal. With the end of the strict distribution of roles there will be no more formal hierarchies within the team. However, three accountabilities must always be clearly assigned: Product Owner, Scrum Master and Developer.


3. New: The Product Goal

The latest version of the Scrum Guide introduces the Product Goal for the first time. This is a new or additional objective formulation for the future state of the product. This new concept helps teams to focus on a larger and more valuable goal. With each sprint, the product should come closer to the overall product goal. To support the teams in formulating the product goal, the Scrum Guide 2020 provides the Product Goal Canvas as a tool.


4. Commitments for artifacts

The Scrum inventors themselves state that they have always had a hard time explaining why, for example, the Definition of Done or the Sprint Goal are not artifacts. In order to create a better classification and understanding of the roles, the term commitment has now been introduced. These three commitments are assigned to the three artifacts:

Artefact Commitment Note
Product Backlog Product Goal The new Product Goal helps to determine what is included in the Product Backlog. 
Sprint Backlog Sprint Goal The Sprint Goal helps to prioritize and select the most important elements for the Sprint Backlog.
Increment Definition of Done The Definition of Done serves as a checklist whether an Increment was created or not.

This new assignment provides more transparency and focus on the progress of each artifact.


5. Self-management instead of self-organisation

Earlier guides defined Scrum Teams as self-organizing and that they determine who and what work should be done. In the new edition the term has changed a bit: Self-organization becomes self-management. This goes hand in hand with the new responsibility of the teams for the execution, monitoring and management of their own work. However, the self-managing Scrum team doesn’t have to worry about the organizational tasks such as team composition or the general direction of the company.


6. Third topic for sprint planning

From now on, a third question is new in sprint planning. In addition to the topics "What" and "How", a short "Why" discussion should now also take place. This gives more importance to the existing Sprint Goal.


7. General simplification of the language

As already mentioned in the beginning, one of the major goals of this year's edition was to reach a wide audience through a simplified language. The main focus was on softening complex expressions and formulations, as well as sorting out established terms from the IT sector. This way the creators of Scrum hope to continue to establish the agile concept in industries outside of software development.


You want to learn more about Scrum and agile project management? Here you can find more articles on the topics:

Subscribe to our newsletter

Please enter your name.


Currently no upcoming events