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Welcome Change – The new Scrum Guide

by DI (FH) Andreas Lettner

Welcome Change – an essential principle in agile development, which is supported in its importance in the Scrum framework by the three pillars of transparency, inspection and adaptation. And just as change is something we encounter every day during product development, it is also necessary to allow and live change in the development of agile practices and frameworks. On November 18, 2020, the time had come: the new Scrum Guide was published. Here you find the fundamental changes at first sight.

First of all, what hasn‘t changed? Scrum is still Scrum – a lightweight framework that helps teams solve complex problems and is designed to deliver value to customers. Customer-centric, nevertheless a focused view on the team and its members.

Table of contents

  • More freedom leads to more individuality
  • A stronger team
  • No more hats – only responsibilities
  • The Scrum Master becomes a “real” leader
  • Self-organization vs. self-management
  • The way is the goal
  • Three obligations
  • Conclusion
  • About Scrum
  • Author
More freedom leads to more individuality

The Scrum framework has never been particularly prescriptive in its practices in order to get a team to work and grow optimally. The new Scrum Guide goes a step further and becomes less “prescriptive” in many parts and reduces to the essentials. For example, in the Daily Scrum, the previously defined questions have been eliminated.

A stronger team

In the future, the Scrum Team will only be one team. This may sound strange at first glance, but with the previous designation of the “Development Team” in the Scrum Guide, there was a danger that the developers would form themselves as a “subteam” and that the positive synergies in the entire Scrum Team would be missing. In the new Scrum Guide the term “Development Team” is replaced by “Developer.” There is now only one team – the Scrum Team!

No more hats – only responsibilities

Previously, Scrum Master, Product Owner and the Development Team were described in terms of roles. The new Scrum Guide completely dispenses with the concept of roles and now uniformly introduces the communication of accountabilities. This may also lead to Scrum teams growing closer together in the future and being able to move better as a team.

The Scrum Master becomes a “real” leader

At first glance, a small change was made to the Scrum Master: the “Servant Leader” became the “True Leader,” who continues to support the team and the organization. This change must first convince us, since the concept of the “Servant Leader” previously represented a clear image and demarcation from classic management, which could be weakened by this.

Self-organization vs. self-management

The “self-organizing” Scrum team becomes the “self-managing” Scrum team. This emphasizes the high value of the autonomy of the entire team. While in the Scrum Guide from 2017 the Development Team was still self-organizing, it is now the Scrum Team that decides together.

The way is the goal

The product goal is now the basis for these joint decisions. The product goal is intended to create a common picture of the product and to present the possible paths more clearly.

Three obligations

The 2017 Scrum Guide already mentioned the sprint goal and the definition of Done, yet these were not particularly strongly anchored. Simultaneously with the introduction of the product goals, these three were now assigned to the artifacts as commitments:

  • Product backlog receives the product target
  • Sprint Backlog receives the sprint target
  • Increment receives the definition of Done

Previously, the sprint goal was communicated as part of sprint planning. What is new here is the joint definition of the sprint goal by the Scrum team. Through the institutionalization of a preceding, additional question in Sprint Planning, the following topics have arisen:

  • Why is this sprint valuable?
  • What can be implemented in the sprint?
  • How is the chosen work implemented?

The changes in the Scrum Guide 2020 can simply be described with one word: exciting. We are curious to incorporate the new topics into our everyday project work and to experiment with them. We are confident that many of the changes mentioned here will influence the development of our way of working in a positive way. We would like to invite our clients to take this step of development together
with us.

Scrum Cycle

Scrum Cycle

About Scrum

Scrum is an agile approach to project management developed by Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland and frequently used in software development. The approach is defined in the so-called Scrum Guide and is developed independently of companies and manufacturers. An updated version of the Scrum Guide was published on November 18, 2020.


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    DI (FH) Andreas Lettner

    Head of Unit Domain-Specific Applications, Head of Coaches