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Agile vs Scrum: what’s the difference?

Last post 12:53 pm April 9, 2023 by Ryan Kent
4 replies
05:06 am April 7, 2023

07:29 pm April 7, 2023

"Scrum" is the framework described in the Scrum Guide. We are lucky in that we can nail it down, even though we face many choices and challenges when implementing it.

"Agile" might mean that, or something else, depending on whoever is using the word at the time.

04:54 pm April 8, 2023

Agile is a set of four values and 12 principles defined at 22 years ago. The creators of the lightweight, adaptive methods at the time (Scrum, Extreme Programming, and a few other frameworks) met at Snowbird to see what they had in common, so they created the manifesto we know today. Many don't know that Scrum came several years before Agile, and Agile might not be around without Scrum.

Scrum is a lightweight framework that gives us events, artifacts, accountabilities, and commitments to serve as a foundation for Agility.

10:27 am April 9, 2023

Agile is a set of principles and values for software development defined in the Agile Manifesto (although it has found use outside of software development today). The Agile philosophy emphasizes collaboration, flexibility, customer feedback and iterative development. It encourages teams to adapt to change and deliver working "software" quickly and continuously. Around Agile many different frameworks have emerged.

Scrum is one such Agile framework that provides an approach for managing complex work in a structured way. It does this through empiricism using the three pillars of Transparency, Inspection and Adaptation. To enable this Scrum defines specific roles such as the Product Owner, the Scrum Master, and the Development Team, all with clear accountabilities. It also defines events such as the Sprint, the Sprint Planning, the Daily Scrum, the Sprint Review and the Sprint Retrospective, and the artifacts of the Product Backlog, the Sprint Backlog, and the Increment. Together they all serve specific purposes to enable empiricism and help teams plan, develop, and deliver high-quality products iteratively and incrementally.

So in summary, Agile and Scrum are related but distinct concepts. Where Agile is a set of principles and values that guide the development, Scrum is a specific framework that implements Agile principles and practices for managing complex work.

12:53 pm April 9, 2023

Scrum was first developed in the 1990s and has continued to evolve since.

The term "Agile" with a capital A and the Manifesto for Agile Software Delivery was developed in February of 2001 and has not changed since it was published.


"Scrum is a lightweight framework that helps individuals, teams and organizations deliver value through adaptive solutions to complex problems." - SG

Agile is a term coined to describe lightweight methods. 

Scrum is one of the lightweight methods considered when the term "Agile" was coined, along with other lightweight methods such as eXtreme Programming, Dynamic Systems Development method and others.


"The Scrum Guide contains the definition of Scrum. Each element of the framework serves a specific purpose that is essential to the overall value and results realized with Scrum." - SG

The Manifesto for Agile Software Development is a statement followed by 4 values associated to lightweight methods. The 12 principles behind the Agile Manifesto describe common principles followed by the 17 signatories of the Agile Manifesto at the time of writing the Agile Manifesto.


Scrum is a framework, a supporting structure that includes Accountabilities, Events, Artifacts, Commitments and Values. As a framework it is intended to be followed as defined, adding complimentary practices and tools as needed for your domain and situation.

Agile is a term representing lightweight methods. The Manifesto for Agile Software Development is a set of values and supporting principles. There is no structure or method associated to it.

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