Scrum As A Framework

There has been a lot of conversation about the Scrum Guide that Jeff Sutherland and I made available on It is there, along with more than a dozen translations, for anyone to download as a PDF. When people share the PDF with each other, we request proper attribution so that it is always clear what is being read.

Many versions of Scrum are popping up these days. I want to make my position on this clear.

I’ve frequently said that Scrum is just a framework. It is a framework that Jeff and I devised within which complex products can be built. If the framework is used intelligently, these products will be developed with the very highest value, quality, and productivity, pleasing both the developers and the customers involved.

The word “framework” means that much is not specified and must be devised by those using the framework. I equate Scrum to the game of chess. You can read the official rulebook for chess. The moves, players, sequences, scoring, etc. are all specified. Learn them. Then you can play chess. Maybe your chess game isn’t so good, but you can study great games, strategies, and tactics, and practice to get better and better. However, you are playing the game of chess, so you don’t have the option of changing the rule book. If you change the rules, it’s not chess any longer. Just learn how to play the game with excellence, which is enough of a challenge.

Jeff and I worked hard over several decades to get Scrum to stand as it does today. It is simple, and it is definitive. We invite you to use it to build complex products. You will have to have, learn, or improve requirements gathering and presentation techniques; quality techniques; refactoring; customer engagement; collaboration; teaming; conflict resolution techniques; and other practices, as well. But the Scrum framework will help you by providing continual feedback on your progress and success.

If you don’t like Scrum, we welcome and invite you to devise something else. Just don’t call it Scrum.

25 thoughts on “Scrum As A Framework

  1. Really great Ken! But I think this is not only a problem with Scrum, but with the whole Agile culture. We are talking about relatively new thinking (2001). There’s people out there into their “comfort zone”, that would like to have the “magic” of Scrum going on into their projects, but still don’t want to get out of this zone. You are doing a really beautiful and persistent work, and I believe and support Scrum in my highest level of effort.

    Shu – Ha – Ri (Learn the rule – Break the rule – Be the rule). People have to understand it, but the corporate world pressure for results, sometimes, doesn’t let people take the time necessary to do it. Just let’s keep it alive, and help people that want to do Scrum effectively do it!

  2. I like your analogy to chess, and to take it further, just as chess evolved from its early roots as tastes changed and it crossed culture, you should expect the concept of “Scrum” to evolve and change. Let’s face it, the idea of self-organized teams moving development of new products to market in a rugby-like way called “Scrum” did not begin with you guys. The original Japanese authors of the “New New Product Devlopment Game” article didn’t insist that this “Scrum” metaphor be used in one way and one way only. That being said, I agree with you 100% that you need an initial standard that has been tried closet the bone for a while and understood before it is adapted into something else. Scrum will evolve. Nobody can or should try to stop this process from happening. Seed the whirlwind…

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  6. Ken, I believe your take is dead on. Scrum is most effective when it’s kept simple and the teams stick to the fundementals.

    It is when those attempting to re-invent the wheel run into trouble….

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  15. I tend to use the metaphor of playing guitar when discussing Scrum. You can either learn the basics the same as Three chord theory and go do some busking of folk songs or you can choose to use the basics as a platform to learning true virtuosity such as Segovia, Hendrix, BB King etc… all very different styles but no one would argue that they didn’t know how to play.

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