Scrum & Agile Blog

2020 Scrum Guide Change Summary

Scrum Guide Update 2020
We now have a new 2020 version of The Scrum Guide! This was released publicly on the 18th of November 2020 (US time) during an online event that celebrated 25 years since Scrum was presented in 1995. As a Scrum Alliance guide, I am in the privileged position of having had a preview of this for several weeks prior to public release. So, what has changed since the previous 2017 edition? Here’s a quick summary with analysis and what to watch out for to follow in a separate blog post.

The fundamentals remain

The Scrum framework has not changed in a fundamental way. There are still 5 Events, 3 Artefacts, 5 Values and 3 Roles, even though the last of these are not referred to as such (more on that below). There are however secondary elements that are new or have become more specifically defined such as “commitments” associated with each of the artefacts.

Even less prescriptive

The 2020 Scrum Guide is much less prescriptive about details. The number of pages of content tells much of the story here:
  • 2017 version: 17 pages
  • 2020 version: 10 pages
This page count excludes the “Purpose” and “End Note” sections as well as the table of contents. The 2020 Scrum Guide is 13 pages including those sections. The 2020 version says much less about the content of the events, the attributes of Product Backlog items, Sprint cancellation etc. Instead it describes purpose, characteristics and outcomes, leaving the rest to be customised to context through an empirical approach informed by the many good practice guides available elsewhere. The language has been subtantially simplified and the 2020 Scrum Guide omits remaining inferences to IT roles to make it more readily relatable to a wider audience.

Significant changes

  • “Roles” no longer used as a term: now accountability designations rather than “roles”.
  • No more Development Team: now just one team including “Developers” plus Product Owner and Scrum Master.
  • Beyond “self-organising”: the Scrum Team is “self-managing” rather than “self-organising”.
  • Clearer that Scrum Master is a leader: Scrum Master explicitly a “true leader” with an explicit overall accountability for the Scrum Team’s effectiveness.
  • “Why” topic added to Sprint Planning: Sprint Planning has 3 topics rather than 2 with the addition of Topic 1: Why focused on agreeing on a Sprint Goal.
  • Daily Scrum questions removed: the What did I do yesterday / today / impediment questions no longer appear.
  • Each artefact has a “commitment”: Product Goal for Product Backlog, Sprint Goal for Sprint Backlog and Definition of Done for Increment.
  • “Product Goal” commitment added: commitment is added.
  • “Product” is explicitly defined: as a vehicle to deliver value.
  • Multiple increments during a Sprint: increments come into being as Product Backlog items reach Done.
  • Only Done Product Backlog items shown in Sprint Review: whilst previously somewhat implicit, this is now explicit.
  • Product Backlog items not Done return to the Product Backlog: now also explicit.
  • Sprint Review not a gate to releasing value: explicitly debunks the misinterpretation that releasing must be coupled with Sprint Boundaries.

Minor changes

  • “Lean thinking” added as a foundation.
  • Multiple Scrum Teams focused on the same product now should share the same Product Owner.
  • Scrum is founded on “empiricism” rather than “empirical process control theory”.
  • It is explicit that the whole Scrum Team collaborates on the Sprint Goal.
  • Sustainable pace in Sprints now explicit.
  • Sprint Backlog contains “work items” rather than simply plan comprising “work”.
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Rowan Bunning
Rowan Bunning is an Australian pioneer of Scrum having become Australia's first recognised ScrumMaster in 2003, Australia’s first Certified Scrum Practitioner® (CSP) in 2006 and Certified Scrum Trainer® (CST) in early 2008. As a CST, he has delivered over 400 Certified Scrum courses in Australia, New Zealand and Southeast Asia making him one of the most experienced Agile trainers in the region. As a coach, Rowan has guided organisations ranging from banks to video games companies through accelerated Agile adoptions including Scrum, Kanban Method and Large-Scale Scrum (LeSS) as well as consulting to management on outcomes-oriented Agile capability assessment and change leadership.


  • Sunny Roy
    1 December 2020

    Hi Rowan, I have read a few articles on the updates to the Scrum Guide 2020 and your article comes with a crisp and clear snapshot. Awesome!

  • Greg Billington
    19 January 2021

    Useful summary thanks, I am quite a visual person so tried to summarise the changes on a single picture,
    thought may be worth sharing

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