Scrum is, Scrum is not

Scrum is a framework. You can use it to manage lots of things, including complex product development. Scrum is defined in the Scrum Guide and consists of roles, events, and artifacts, and a set of rules that bind them together. It is based in empirical process control and bottom-up thinking.

The latest Scrum Guide was just released by me and Jeff, and is posted on Some things like release planning, sprint tasks, and burndowns were removed from the formal definition of Scrum. They were removed because they weren’t Scrum. Are they useful? Absolutely! But it became apparent that these weren’t Scrum when people proposed other techniques that were equally effective. We certainly don’t want people to feel restricted or constrained from other effective practices if they use Scrum.

You should feel free to continue to use burndowns (Sprint and Release), to do release planning, and to commit. Do anything that works within the Scrum framework and aids you in doing your work, building complex products.

You even feel free to do things that aren’t coherent and consistent with Scrum. You are free to do continuous flow, but if you choose to do it without increments and iterative time-boxes, you aren’t doing Scrum. You are free to assign tasks to resources based on their capacity, but then you aren’t doing the self-organization required of Scrum.

We give you permission to do anything that you want. The Scrum Guide will help you understand whether that is Scrum or not. The results will help you decide whether that is a wise practice or technique, or not.

21 thoughts on “Scrum is, Scrum is not

  1. There is a lot to said for keeping things simple. Scrum is easy to pick up and use on a daily basis. That’s good but it brings with it a downside.

    Scrum is also easy to modify, tamper with, and append to. People often try to “improve” Scrum, fail, and claim that Scrum doesn’t work. Yet, using only the basics of Scrum also doesn’t work in many situations.

    Would it be a bad outcome to have variations or flavors of Scrum? Perhaps “Basic Scrum”, “Advanced Scrum” and “Enterprise Scrum”? One size of software development does not fit all. We have to do better.

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  5. Hi Ken,

    But what’s the point of having a framework if you give people all this flexibility. This in my opinion, will slowly reduce Scrum to just a set of best practices that can be changed or adapted partially…

  6. @Ken: Lovely post! Scrum Guide has been a tremendous value add to the entire Agile Community & your posts are amazingly simple, yet so deep in significance. I am from India & with the growing interest on Scrum, I wonder weather you have any plans to visit this part of the Globe in near future. It will be an honor & pleasure to meet you.

  7. Hi Mr. Schwaber.

    I’ve been recently reading and accessing your contributions – Agile Software Development With Scrum (2001), Agile Project Management With Scrum (2004) – and they gave me a wonderful attention about protecting our team against “chickens” and the importance of cooperation and team empowerement (as considered inside Extreme Programming).

    I have not read the books entirely and i’m still working on them.

    In Brazil, I generally see forums with people asking the difference between methods, models and frameworks. In some documents i see Scrum defined as a method. In your books and the official Scrum Guide it is stated as a framework ( as i generaly interpret it to be ).

    You have published “SCRUM Development Process” that states Scrum as a Methodology.

    Is it possible to consider Scrum a framework and a methodology ?

    Am I right to consider it as a framework when people adapt its principles within the application of a process such as XP ?

    Am I right to consider it a methodology when people just grabs Scrum and develop their own process of development (own definition of the black box that represents the Sprint) ?

    My best regards.

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  11. I am glad to see the clarifications that you have posted.
    I am a Scrum Master myself but I constantly encounter other Scrum Masters who for some unforeseen reason are constantly inclined to remove the flexibility prescribed by the Scrum framework and instead preach Scrum as a religious doctrine – rigid and inflexible.

  12. ScrumMasters often strive for certainty and predictability when they should be striving for team performance, efficacy, and sustainability.
    They could go back to waterfall, if there is still a version around.

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