Scrum Guide 2020 update – what’s changed?

It’s Scrum’s 25th birthday, and I managed to get a spot on the Scrum Guide 2020 update webinar! We heard from speakers Jeff Sutherland, Ken Schwaber, J.J Sutherland, Dave West, Avi Schneier and Don McGreal. Here’s a brief overview of the what’s changed.

1. Addition of the Product Goal

For me, the biggest change is the addition of the product goal. The Product Owner is accountable for making sure a product goal exists. The guide has been updated to focus more on the why behind what we are doing; streamlining the communication channels between who is asking for something and the people building the increment. The product goal is the long-term objective for the Scrum Team; and as always, it’s best to collaboratively define your product goal.

2. Focus on one team

The development team has been replaced with developers. This is to help prevent the “team within a team” issue seen in previous iterations of the Scrum guide. So we just have one team now, the Scrum Team, and that consists of the Product Owner, the Scrum Master and Developers. A developer isn’t necessarily a computer programmer; they are the people developing an increment.

3. The definition of done and sprint goal have been attached to artefacts as commitments

The definition of done and the sprint goal tended to “float around” the Scrum guide before, and it was difficult to understand what they actually were (were they artefacts?). In the latest Scrum Guide 2020; they have been attached as commitments to the existing artefacts:

  • The Product Goal is a commitment for the Product Backlog artefact
  • The Sprint Goal is a commitment for the Sprint Backlog artefact
  • The Definition of Done is a commitment for the Product Increment artefact

4. There are now 3 topics to cover in sprint planning

Sprint planning now has the concept of three topics, as opposed to two previously:

  1. Why are we doing this sprint? – this is new
  2. What can be done this sprint?
  3. How will we complete the chosen work?

5. Self-managing has replaced self-organising teams

Teams are now self-managing as opposed to self-organising. Organising just covers who is going to do something and how they are going to do it. A self-managing team also has responsibility for what we work on next as well.

6. Updates to Daily Scrum

The updated Scrum guide now no longer mentions the three questions used in the daily scrum (what did I do yesterday, what am I going to do today, do I have any impediments) – they were optional anyway, now they are gone. The guide simply states:

The developers can select whatever structure and techniques they want, as long as their Daily Scrum focuses on progress toward the Sprint Goal and produces an actionable plan for the next day of work. This creates focus and improves self-management

7. There is far less detail about cancelling a sprint

The detail around when a sprint can be cancelled has also been reduced considerably (to one single line from about 4 paragraphs).

8. Adding an action to your next sprint is no longer explicitly mentioned

This used to be mentioned as part of the sprint retrospective event, and whilst it is still a great thing to do, your team can discuss the best way of actioning their continuous improvement activities; the Scrum guide simply states that is must be done as soon as possible.

9. Scrum Masters as leaders

Prior to this update, the guide mentioned that Scrum Master were servant-leaders – doing whatever was necessary to ensure the team succeeds. With this latest iteration of the Scrum guide; the focus has shifter more towards the leaders who serve. Driving the team to success.

Scrum Masters are true leaders who serve the Scrum Team and the larger organization.

10. The guide now has a broader appeal

The Scrum guide is less prescriptive and more welcoming to teams that aren’t necessarily building software. This really broadens it’s scope. It’s only 13 pages long now (down from 21) – so less intimidating to read for beginners.


At first glance, the updated Scrum Guide 2020 looks excellent. There’s a lot still to take in, but with it’s broader appeal (specifically to non-software applications), it’s focus on accountability, and looking more closely at the “why” behind we are using Scrum in the first place, is a great step up from where we were in 2017.

If you are Scrum Master reading this, pay particular attention to point 10 – hopefully you were doing this already.

I hope you enjoyed this summary. I’ll be busy updating my site to reflect the latest changes, in the meantime you can view the latest version of the Scrum guide at

Stephen Waring
Stephen Waring

I’m an enthusiastic and energetic Scrum Master who loves everything about Agile!

Cover Photo by Markus Winkler from Pexels