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Scrum Guide 2020 and 2017: A Side-by-Side Comparison

November 18, 2020
This is part #34 of 59 in the series Scrum Guide 2020 Updates

On November 18, 2020 Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland published an update of the Scrum Guide. According to the co-creators, the Scrum Guide 2020 aims at “bringing Scrum back to being a minimally sufficient framework by removing or softening prescriptive language”[1].

To help you see and understand these changes, we created this side-by-side comparison of the Scrum Guide 2020 and the Scrum Guide 2017.

This information was compiled by Johannes Geske who is a Professional Scrum Trainer (PST) at and an agile coach based in Duesseldorf, Germany. His journey in Scrum began in 2005. Johannes is a Scrum Trainer at Amazing Outcomes where he teaches and coaches Scrum to help teams and organizations to deliver greater value to their customers.



Before you dive into a detailed side-by-side comparison, have a look at this summary of what has changed and – equally important – was hasn’t changed.


What hasn’t changed:

In a nutshell, Scrum is still Scrum. Scrum is still a lightweight framework to solve complex problems and deliver value. Scrum is still about a cross-functional team of people collaborating closely with one another and their stakeholders. As a team, they create and deliver valuable and useful Increments every Sprint.


What has changed[2]:

  • Less prescriptive, simpler language and removal of software-specific terminology.
  • Changes to some definitions, e.g., Scrum definition, empiricism, Product Backlog, Sprint Goal, Sprint Backlog, Increment, Definition of Done.
  • Removed (e.g., "Scrum Uses") or reorganized content (e.g., "Measuring Progress toward Goals").
  • Elements added and their relationships clarified, e.g., the "Commitments" Product Goal (new), Sprint Goal and Definition of Done.
  • The concept of a Development Team within a Scrum Team was removed to reduce the potential for dysfunctions between the Product Owner and the Development Team (“us vs. them”) and focus the entire Scrum Team on the same objective[1].
  • A Scrum Team now consists of the Product Owner, Developers, and the Scrum Master. The people doing the work of creating a usable Increment are called Developers.
  • The “entire Scrum Team is accountable for creating a valuable, useful Increment every Sprint.” The Developers are accountable for all aspects of creating the usable Increment.
  • The terms "accountable" and "responsible" are used more consistently, and "roles" is replaced by "accountabilities".
  • The Scrum Guide now uses the terms “self-managing” and “self-management” to emphasize that Scrum Teams choose “who, how and what to work on” whereas the Scrum Guide 2017 used the terms “self-organizing” and “self-organization” to describe that Development Teams chose “who and how to do work”.
  • The term servant-leader was removed, and Scrum Masters are now described as “true leaders who serve the Scrum Team and the larger organization”.
  • Sprint Planning now has three topics: “Why is this Sprint valuable?”, is the new first topic.
  • The purpose of events is clarified and the description how to conduct them is less prescriptive.
  • A “Product Goal” is introduced, serving as a target and describing a future state of the product.
  • It is clarified that multiple Increments can be delivered within a Sprint, even prior to the end of a Sprint. Sprint Review is not a gate to releasing value.


Side-by-Side Comparison

You can access and read the side-by-side comparison here.

Scrum Guide Side-by-Side Comparison



This information was compiled by Johannes Geske who is a Professional Scrum Trainer (PST) at and an agile coach based in Duesseldorf, Germany. It is offered under the same license as the Scrum Guide, the Attribution Share-Alike license of Creative Commons, accessible at and in summary form at By utilizing this side-by-side comparison, you acknowledge and agree that you have read and agree to be bound by the terms of the Attribution Share-Alike license of Creative Commons.



[1] Scrum Guide Revision History (accessed: 18‑Nov‑2020)
[2] The Scrum Guide 2020 (accessed: 18‑Nov‑2020)


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