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Scrum Guide 2020 Update - Role to Accountabilities

November 18, 2020
This is part #23 of 59 in the series Scrum Guide 2020 Updates

With the 2020 release of the Scrum Guide, the term role was replaced with accountabilities. The purpose of this change was to place special emphasis that this is not a job description, but the bare minimum set of accountabilities necessary to execute Scrum. The accountabilities are split into 3 groups:

  • Scrum Master
  • Product Owner
  • Developer 

The term Developer is a new accountability based on the Development Team role in the 2017 Scrum Guide. This change of terminology ultimately DOES NOT CHANGE Scrum, as roles have always described a set of accountabilities. However, removing roles simplifies the Scrum Guide and helps to reduce the confusion often created by people thinking that a role is a job title and provides additional context. 

Below are a set of some interesting questions that have come up when discussing this change:

There is a lot of content in places that talks about roles in Scrum is that now wrong?

No, the changes provide clarity and try to avoid confusion. The existing content that uses the term role is still valid because people will take on roles or personas as a part of being accountable. I hope that this change is a reminder that a role is NOT a job description.


If my job title is Scrum Master is this now wrong?

No, Scrum Master can still be a great job title, but it is likely that job title will include a job description that is larger than the accountabilities described in the Scrum Guide. The description of the accountabilities in the Scrum Guide provides the foundation, each organization and context will extend and make these accountabilities more specific for their situation. For example, the Scrum Master serves the organization by helping to plan Scrum implementations. In a job description, this will describe how that fits into a broader agile initiative. 


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