Agile is not (only) for IT Anymore The 2020 Agile Scrum Guide Revisions

Agile methods are increasingly used beyond IT in all business areas. The recent 2020 revision of the Scrum Guide takes a broader business and product focus and emphasizes team commitment and autonomy.

Agile is not (only) for IT Anymore

Agile methods are increasingly used beyond IT in all business areas. The recent 2020 revision of the Scrum Guide takes a broader business and product focus and emphasizes team commitment and autonomy.

Just in time for its 25th birthday, the Agile Scrum Guide was revised in 2020. With the previous update dating back to 2017, the new Scrum is adjusting to the developments and changes that have happened since. So, what is new in the Agile Scrum Guide 2020? And more importantly, why should organizations adopt the new Scrum guidelines? In this article we give answers to these questions and summarize the most important changes and innovations of the Scrum Guide 2020.

The 5 Most Important Changes in the Agile Scrum Guide 2020

1. Stronger Business Focus

The benefits of adopting Scrum exceed far beyond IT and software development. In fact, finding solutions to complex problems is an issue every business area, organization and team is concerned with. By removing words like “testing”, “requirement” and “system”, the new guide uses a more “business-inclusive” language applicable to all areas of an agile organization. The Development Team (now renamed to Developers) now not only refers to merely technical roles, but also includes business roles such as business developers, venture architects, data experts and the like. Thereby it confirms what we have long been suspecting: Scrum generates value for any agile team looking to accomplish its goals in a faster, high-quality and more transparent manner.

Scrum generates value for any agile team looking to accomplish its goals in a faster, high-quality and more transparent manner.
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2. Less Rules, More Team Autonomy

One noticeable change of the Scrum Guide 2020 is that it is significantly shorter than its predecessor from 2017. By being less descriptive it gives teams more freedom and room to explore. One example for this is that the three famous questions of the Daily Standup meeting (What did you do yesterday? What will you do today? Are there any impediments in your way?) have been removed from the Guide. Instead, the new Scrum allows Developers to apply any format or structure to their Daily Standup. Instead of facing the threat of turning the meeting into a simple status report, this liberty promotes increasing transparency by adapting the discussion based on daily needs. The trend of imposing less restrictions also applies to the time invested into the refinement of the backlog: Whilst the previous Scrum Guide suggested to invest up to 10% of the time into refinement, developers are now free to attribute as much or little time to refinements as they need. Overall, these changes allow the self-managed agile team to take on more autonomy and to decide how to create customer value in a self-managed manner.

3. Agile Scrum Master – a True Leader

In the new guide the role of the Scrum Master is assigned more importance and accountability. From begin a “servant leader” the Scrum Master is now a “true leader”, considering for the fact that an experienced and motivated Scrum Master has always played an essential role in becoming 100% agile. Moreover, the Scrum Master is the person accountable for the effectiveness of the entire Scrum team. As this change implies, it is not enough to just know the Scrum theory in order to excel as a Scrum Master – strong leadership skills are required to empower and lead the Scrum team to deliver business value.

4. The Product Goal

With the new release, the new Scrum Guide introduced a new term: The Product Goal. Product-centricity is one of the key building blocks of any agile organization. Successful agile companies organize their work around product-centric teams in which experts from all relevant areas work together on one product. To ensure that all these interdisciplinary teams work in the same direction and follow the same priorities, it is extremely important that the overall product vision is clear. The Product Goal defines the desired future state of the product and as such supports the Scrum team in planning the tasks as well as measuring progress. It also provides the teams with a sense of purpose and long-term direction, helps defining the Sprint Goals and connects the daily work to the overall higher-level objective.

5. Commitment is Everything

Strong commitment is a prerequisite for autonomy and has always been one of the core values of agile working. To leverage this value in practice, in the new guide, each Scrum artefact now contains its own clear commitment:

  • Product Goal is the commitment for the Product Backlog.
  • Sprint Goal is the commitment for the Sprint Backlog.
  • Definition of Done is the commitment for the Increment.

These commitments not only provide extra transparency and precision, but they also emphasize the need to consistently apply each agile artefact to create business value.

Bottom Line: Why Adopt These Changes?

The new Scrum guide contains important innovations and simplifications that make Scrum more universal, clear and effective than ever – regardless of the business area. Scrum 2020 goes hand-in-hand with the industry trends and reflects the developments we’ve seen in the last few years: leveraging of agile methodologies in all business areas, stronger product-orientation, more team autonomy and the constantly growing importance of purpose in the workplace. To fully benefit from the changes of the new Scrum, organizations need to consider their current setup. It determines their most optimal approach to introducing Scrum 2020. Reach out to find out how you can leverage agile in your organization.

How To Accelerate Your Organization’s Agile Journey?

You are right in the middle of your agile transformation or just starting? Here is how our agile assets can help you making the next step:

  • You want to boost your team’s agile capabilities? Our neoverv Academy provides agile trainings, workshops and agile coaching.
  • How agile is your organization already and how are you doing compared to your industry peers? Find out with your Agile Assessment tool and receive an individual report that points out the next steps in your agile transformation.
  • What does it take make your organisation a truly Agile Organisation? Download our Agile Playbook and learn about all agile enablers and how to make them work for your agile transformation.

Contact me or schedule a free consultation (German / English) to discuss any specific question regarding your agile journey!

Aigerim Zhuankhan neoverv GmbH


Agile Academy Lead

Tech Expertin, Agile Trainerin and Change Agent mit Schwerpunkt auf digitale Strategien, agile Methoden und Tools.

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