Scrum Guide Updates: 5 Interesting Changes That You May Have Missed

Eugene LaiMon, 07/23/2018 - 15:12

Recently, as I continue leading exam preparation workshops for the Professional Scrum Master I (PSM I) certification (offered by, I have had to re-read the latest version of the Scrum Guide multiple times. In this process, one of the things I decided to do was to compare this version to the previous release (dated 2016), so that I can see how the Scrum Guide is evolving, which would ultimately affect the content of the exam itself.

I identified several interesting changes that I would like to share with you in this article. Below are my findings and observations from comparing the two versions of the Scrum Guide. It is my hope that you will find this to be useful in your pursuit of Scrum excellence.

Change #1 – Uses of Scrum

You will notice that this version of the Scrum Guide makes an effort to broaden the application of Scrum beyond “building software”, which makes perfect sense. This change also states that terminology such as “develop” and “development” is no longer limited to software development, but any kind of complex work. Since Scrum is a framework that can be adopted and applied to almost any industry and any organization, I think this change makes a lot of sense and will help continue to grow Scrum across different types of businesses.

Change #2 – The Sprint Goal

The Sprint Goal is a concept that was not clearly defined in previous versions of the Scrum Guide. In this update, the Guide clarifies the purpose of creating this goal, which is an important component of Scrum.

Change #3 – The Daily Scrum

The next change is likely one of the most impactful to teams that are already practicing Scrum for some time. This change encompasses an expansion (or loosening) of the structure of the Daily Scrum; teams are no longer expected to follow the “3 question format” for the Daily Scrum, but instead, are allowed to use a “more discussion based” approach to execute this event.

The Guide also states that team members often meet immediately after the Daily Scrum to discuss detailed issues as needed. I thought that this was a good change that reflects real-world practice of Scrum. This demonstrates that the creators of Scrum are actively observing how teams are applying Scrum practices, and are adapting the Guide to enhance alignment to what real teams are doing.

In addition, the Guide mentions that members external to the Development Team (such as Product Owner or stakeholders, etc.) are present, the Scrum Master is expected to ensure this does not cause disruption. This is a positive clarification to communicate the guidelines without being overly prescriptive.

Change #4 – Event Timeboxes

The next change is fairly small and simple, but is still important. This update clarifies the meaning behind timeboxed events to ensure practitioners understand that they are maximum amount of time, NOT a required amount of time for individual Scrum events.

Change #5 – Scrum Master’s Role in Retrospective

Since previous versions of the Scrum Guide did not contain information on what the Scrum Master’s responsibilities are within the Sprint Retrospective, there is quite a bit of mystery regarding this event. This change addresses this by stating that the Scrum Master is expected to teach the team to execute a productive meeting as well as participate as a peer.

All in all, the latest update to the Scrum Guide may be seen as a very minor release that did not add a ton of value to experienced Scrum practitioners. I personally felt that this was an important change to clarify the broad appeal of the Scrum framework and its application to all types of business problems that organizations are facing today. I also saw this as an incremental change that demonstrated the continuous improvement mentality of the founders of Scrum, which I think is meaningful to continue the advocacy and adoption of Scrum.

Given that more and more large organizations are applying Scrum practices at an increasing pace, it is increasingly important for teams to stay up to date on the latest evolutions of Scrum so that they can leverage all the benefits that are hidden within this framework.