The concept of Scrum was first introduced back in 1986 in an article published by two Japanese business experts in the Harvard Business Review. Jump forward 34 years and its relevance is still growing. Last week, the creators of The Scrum Guide, Jeff Sutherland and Ken Schwaber, released a new version.
As an Agile Coach I often find myself going back to the Scrum Guide to help clarify a train of thought when trying to solve a delivery issue. So it’s great to see that its creators are still just as passionate about the framework now as they were back in 2010 when it was first published.
So what’s changed? The core principles of course remain the same, but there are some really interesting updates that help Kyan as an agency sell in Scrum to our clients and get them on board.
Introduction of a Product Goal
Vision has always been an integral part of Agile frameworks. In the new Scrum Guide, this is woven more throughout all the Events and Artifacts with the introduction of a Product Goal.
This agreed and clear goal gives us something to refer to in all Scrum activities, helping us stay on course and remain focused.
It also helps us translate and question our clients’ requirements. I feel our best projects are delivered when we’re able to unpick the reasons why we’re doing something, and sometimes that’s difficult when we don’t have a clear vision or Product Goal outlined by our clients.
The importance of Why
As alluded to above, understanding why we’re doing something helps define a requirement. Scrum’s aim is to deliver something of value with every increment - but this can easily be overwhelmed if there are a lot of disparate elements in a Sprint.
For Sprint Planning, the Scrum Guide originally set out two topics for discussion during the event – What and How. What stories do we need to pull in to deliver the Sprint Goal and how are we going to approach these stories?
The latest version of The Scrum Guide adds the topic of Why.
Why does the Sprint Goal contribute towards the Product Goal and subsequently, why do these stories deliver value and contribute towards the Sprint Goal?
The concept of Why gives us the ability to question requirements and ensure the value understanding is transferred from the client to the team.
Jargon and buzzwords are a bit of a pet peeve of mine. It’s easy to hide behind something that is seemingly complex, and Agile practitioners sometimes have a habit of peppering a statement or response with these.
At its heart, Scrum is a simple concept, which is why it’s so good. The Scrum Guide has always been pretty lean but the latest version is slimmed down further to a mere 13 pages.
Complex and redundant statements have been stripped, which for me is a welcomed move as it makes it easier to share with
muggles “non-Agile” people. This is key for us onboarding clients, as Scrum can be a hard concept to sell, so any way we can demystify the framework benefits us.
With the popularity of Scrum still growing I think these updates are a timely revision of the framework that follow its own lessons. Keep it simple, work towards a clear vision and continuously improve.
Read the November 2020 update of The Scrum Guide
The latest version is available to download or read online via scrumguides.org
Take a look at my previous blog on How Scrum values helped us deliver products through lockdown.