In the Scrum Trainer community, many of us refer to the Scrum Guide as “the rule book” that all Scrum teams need to follow and then the nuances of your organizational cadence, culture, and approach to work within the Scrum framework as “your playbook.”
The point of the rule book is that it remains the same from one team to the next within an organization and across organizations. It provides us shared language and understanding so that we can talk about the Scrum framework across state lines, country boundaries, and across numerous organizations without needing to “translate.”
So why then in 2020, was the Scrum Guide updated and released to the Scrum and Agile community? The last update to the Guide was in 2017. Has that much changed in three years? When asked about the change, Dr. Jeff Sutherland, the co-creator of Scrum said that “Scrum hasn’t changed. We’re just getting better at describing it.” Indeed, better and faster at describing it. What was previously a 19-page pdf for those new to the Scrum framework to read and digest, is now only 13 pages. It is less-prescriptive than before allowing for more of the “playbook” and organizational uniqueness to shine through in how teams embrace the Scrum framework as a way to help get things done.
While the length of the Scrum Guide was one of the initially most noticeable changes, another is the new prominent placement of the Product Goal. According to JJ Sutherland, the CEO of Scrum, Inc. “the Product Goal is what the Product Backlog adds up to create.” Which makes sense, but brought about questions within the Scrum community about the difference between a Product Goal and a Product Vision. According to Dave West of Scrum.org, “The Product Goal drives vision which is manifested in the Product Backlog.”
Simple, right? (Insert laugh track here.) The good news for all of us in the field is that Agile is a journey for each team. While the updates to the Scrum Guide mean that we need to likely think about some shifts in how we present the framework to those that are new to the Scrum framework, our “rule book” is simpler and less prescriptive than before.
If you want to watch any of the 2020 Scrum Guide release video that features input from the co-creators of Scrum Dr. Jeff Sutherland and Ken Schwaber, the CEO of Scrum Inc, JJ Sutherland, and a few other amazing contributors to the field, you can watch that for free here. (Bonus points if when you are watching the video you spot me in one of the clips!)
If you haven’t already, be sure to download the updated guide. You can download the free pdf of the 2020 Scrum Guide (now down to 13 pages including the cover page!) here.