The Intended Audience for this Guide

This guide is primarily for Scrum Masters who want to accelerate the promise of Scrum. However, anyone who wants to improve their Scrum adoption will find value in it. This includes managers who have Scrum teams. 

About the Author

Al Shalloway is the co-author of 5 books ranging from technical to process at scale. He was an early XP and Scrum practitioner. In 2007 he asserted that Scrum practitioners would benefit from thinking of Scrum as a partial implementation of Lean. He has used this insight over the last 15 years to provide guidance to teams using Scrum to both work better at the team level and to bring Agile to organizations at scale. 

Preface to the Amplio Scrum Guide

Scrum was originally designed for autonomous, cross-functional teams, creating a new product that have, or can readily get, the skills to do so. It’s a good framework in this situation. However, Scrum is being used in many situations that don’t fit that description. This requires some additional concepts that Scrum does not provide.

These concepts are primarily a set of first principles so people in all roles can understand what needs to be done and that allows for more appropriate practices. More in the area of product Management is also required.

The world we find ourselves in is very different from when Scrum was created. We need to take advantage of what we’ve learned. 

Purpose of the Amplio Scrum Guide

The purpose of this guide is to help Scrum teams improve their ability to add value to their customers.  Scrum now claims to be based on Lean-Thinking but little of Lean is actually in the guide. This guide incorporates Lean thinking in it by taking the guide and adding both the principles of Lean and several concepts that are derived from it. Teams who have used these concepts do Scrum better. This guide is offered under Creative Commons as an extension to Scrum using Amplio (Latin for “improve”).

The Amplio Scrum Guide (ASG) has been written as an extension of the Scrum Guide. Additions to the ASG have been written in green. While most of the Scrum guide is useful, some of it runs counter to Lean thinking and has been removed by striking it out.

Some additions are via links, mostly to my book Amplio Development: The Path to Effective Lean-Agile teams, which is online and free. Typically the label will be to the chapter in question and the link will be to the pdf which is not part of the Creative Commons offering and hence kept separate. While reading the guide it is suggested to keep the PDF loaded and just look for the chapter referred to in the table of contents and jump to that.

This guide doesn’t stand on its own, however.  Part of any Agile adoption is enhanced when collaboration tools are provided. Several Miro virtual collaboration boards are also provided. These include:

  • A challenges board to see what challenges are being encountered.
  • Lean thinking and Value Stream Impedance Scorecard to help teach these concepts.
  • Minimum Business Increment toolkit to facilitate discovering what is of value
  • After Action Reviews (2 boards)
  • Running a pre-mortem
  • Steve Bochman’s Team Estimation – significantly faster while achieving better results than Planning Poker.
  • A summary board and Clean Slate Board

These boards are distributed through the free Amplio Community of Practice. All of these boards are also under creative commons but are not included in this guide directly in order to save duplication of effort. 

All additions to this guide are tagged with #ScrumAnd when it is an addition to Scrum, and with #ScrumSub when it is a substitution of Scrum. The #ScrumSubs, therefore, make this extension of Scrum not Scrum. To learn more about ScrumBut, ScrumAnd, and ScrumSub see the chapter in the book called Re-thinking ScrumBut and ScrumAnd – Introducing ScrumSub.

Note that this guide is not complete. The complete draft should be done by end of September.

Moving from Scrum to a Truly Lean-Agile Approach

Adding theory to Scrum is very straightforward. However, it ends up suggesting new practices. It is easier and more effective to take people from where they are to where they want to go than to just jump to the end. This guide and workshop are bridges from Scrum to more effective team Agile. By taking the Scrum Guide and modifying it as I have done, people can see what they have to do to improve their work methods. People learn better when you teach them from where they are. They do not make big jumps in concepts very effectively. I do not want people to “follow” Amplio or me. I, therefore, provide them with an understanding of what they know and then guide them on how to improve it. 

The Amplio Approach to Scrum

The first principles provided by Flow, Lean, and TOC< enable the creation of the value stream impedance scorecard – a method of telling whether a change to a practice will be an improvement or not. This enables eliminating the immutability Scrum otherwise requires. This allows one to consider Scrum as an example of how to start. Teams can do quick tailoring as needed and then continue to improve without any constraints that may not be beneficial.  Amplio Development does not require set practices but rather suggests about 30 capabilities that teams will find useful. Each of these capabilities can be implemented in any number of ways. Not all of them are needed to start.

How the Amplio Scrum Guide Is Written

Each section will have a short comment on the changes Amplio presents to the Scrum Guide. Specific changes will be marked as #ScrumAnd when it’s an additional practice that is still consistent with Scrum. #ScrumSub will be used when what is presented is a substitution for a Scrum practice. 

The differences between Amplio Scrum and Scrum Guide Scrum in bulleted form

Scrum is attractive because it’s a simple framework. Using iit as a starting point is often good. When more is needed Amplio Scrum can provide that. The first principles identified in Amplio both explain why Scrum works when it does, and how to modify it when appropriate.

Amplio ScrumScrum Guide Scrum
Based on Flow, Lean-thinking, and Theory of Constraints and practices consistent with them. These principles provide guidance to verify if the team is working properly.Based on empirical process control and CAS. No first principles are provided. Provides no guidance on whether what the team is doing is consistent with first principles.
Uses the Value Stream Impedance Scorecard to provide guidance on whether  a change to a practice will be an improvementScrum suggests trying “safe to fail experiments” to see if something will be an improvement.
Can use flow or timeboxing.Uses timeboxing.
Is a set of patterns so teams can decide how to implement what needs to happenIs a framework with the core practices being immutable
Intelligently incomplete. Allows for a tailored quick start and continued learning. Provides for new practices to be introduced as needed.Intentionally incomplete so can get an easy, quick start.
Includes advanced product management artifacts such as MVPs and MBIsLeaves it to its practitioners to figure out what to do.
Works within the context the team finds themselves in.Designed for autonomous, cross-functional teams creating a new product.
Provides methods to help manage work in process.Requires practitioners to figure out how to manage work in process.
Includes coaching tips to help convey core principles to management. Alignment achieved through mutual understanding of principles.Does not include any coaching tips to convey any concepts. Alignment achieved by following Scrum.
Provides core concepts at the start and provides references to more as needed.A small set of concepts to start with. Practitioners are expected to figure out the rest.
Includes almost 2 dozen virtual collaboration boards to facilitate team and asynchronous communication.Doesn’t provide any virtual collaboration boards.
Provides insights in how to do development work efficiently.Leaves how to be efficient to the developers.
Prepares multiple teams to work together at small to medium scale.Is team-centric and provides little insights to expand to multiple teams.
Uses PDSA or OODA lops to “inspect and adopt” and improve model of understanding.Limited to “inspect and adapt”
Uses a continuous learning model.
Uses an iterative learning model.

A List of Links to the Amplio Development: The Path to Effective Lean-Agile Teams

There are many references to Amplio Development: The Path to Effective Lean-Agile Teams. The links in this document are provided below for those who just want to read about the additions to the Scrum guide. 


  • The Amplio Approach. In particular:
    • Systems Thinking and Complexity
    • Attend to Value Streams
    • First principles, Mindsets/Values
    • The Value Steam Impedance Scorecard


  • Being a professional Coach

Additional or Improved practices

  • Minimum Business Increments
  • Timeboxing or Flow?
  • Create Visibility of Work and Workflow
  • Have an Effective Value Creation Structure
  • Keep Everyone Informed (improve the daily standup)

Solving common problems

  • Re-thinking ScrumBut and ScrumAnd – Introducing ScrumSub
  • Manage work-in-process to remove delays in workflow and to lower risk (avoid having so many stories open at the end of a sprint)
  • Use pull methods to keep workload within capacity

Learning and Improving

  • Re-thinking ScrumBut and ScrumAnd – Introducing ScrumSub
  • Know how to select a more appropriate practice
  • Single and Double-Loop Learning
  • Learning Methods

The 2020 Scrum GuideTM

We developed Scrum in the early 1990s. We wrote the first version of the Scrum Guide in 2010 to help people worldwide understand Scrum. We have evolved the Guide since then through small, functional updates. Together, we stand behind it.

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. Changing the core design or ideas of Scrum, leaving out elements, or not following the rules of Scrum, covers up problems and limits the benefits of Scrum, potentially even rendering it useless.

We follow the growing use of Scrum within an ever-growing complex world. We are humbled to see Scrum being adopted in many domains holding essentially complex work, beyond software product development where Scrum has its roots. As Scrum’s use spreads, developers, researchers, analysts, scientists, and other specialists do the work. We use the word “developers” in Scrum not to exclude, but to simplify. If you get value from Scrum, consider yourself included.

As Scrum is being used, patterns, processes, and insights that fit the Scrum framework as described in this document, may be found, applied and devised. Their description is beyond the purpose of the Scrum Guide because they are context sensitive and differ widely between Scrum uses. Such tactics for using within the Scrum framework vary widely and are described elsewhere.

#ScrumSub Amplio Scrum Definition

Amplio Scrum is a subset of the Amplio Development pattern language. It is a lightweight starting point for teams new to Agile. It is described as a collection of substitutions and additions to Scrum so that people who have had training in Scrum can adopt it easily and both fix challenges they are having with Scrum and add several practices that I’ve found to be very useful for teams. In a nutshell:

  1. Amplio Scrum suggests a professional coach guide the team. The Amplio Processional Coach (APC )should know more about Amplio Scrum than the team members to alleviate the team from having to know as much. This extra knowledge isn’t intended to have them make decisions for the team but rather to enable them to help the team understand their choices better. 
  2. The Amplio Team works in either a timeboxed or flow manner (see Timeboxing or Flow?), depending upon the type of work being done (not all work can be planned ahead) and the choice of the team. When timeboxing is used (called a sprint in Scrum), flow is done within the timebox. When flow is used, cadence is also used so as to enable coordination with different roles in the team and with those outside the team.
  3. The Amplio Team adjusts on as continual a basis as makes sense, bat at least daily.
  4. Repeat

Scrum is a lightweight framework that helps people, teams and organizations generate value through adaptive solutions for complex problems.

In a nutshell, Scrum requires a Scrum Master to foster an environment where:

  1. A Product Owner orders the work for a complex problem into a Product Backlog.
  2. The Scrum Team turns a selection of the work into an Increment of value during a Sprint.
  3. The Scrum Team and its stakeholders inspect the results and adjust for the next Sprint.
  4. Repeat

Scrum is simple. Try it as is and determine if its philosophy, theory, and structure help to achieve goals and create value. The Scrum framework is purposefully incomplete, only defining the parts required to implement Scrum theory. Scrum is built upon by the collective intelligence of the people using it. Rather than provide people with detailed instructions, the rules of Scrum guide their relationships and interactions.

Various processes, techniques and methods can be employed within the framework. Scrum wraps around existing practices or renders them unnecessary. Scrum makes visible the relative efficacy of current management, environment, and work techniques so that improvements can be made.

While Amplio Scrum has a fair amount more than Scrum, it can be used in a simple manner if that’s what is desired. To do this one merely needs to start with Scrum but consider it an example of what’s needed. Then, if a challenge arises, read the Amplio supplement on the practices involved and improve as neede.

#ScrumSub Amplio Scrum Theory

#ScrumAnd It is worth pausing and reading the 20 pages of The Amplio Approach. Read through the Value Stream Impedance Scorecard which provides the basis for being able to choose better practices when that’s advisable. While there is nothing wrong with ‘Scrum Theory’ it leaves out much of what has been learned from Flow, Lean, and the Theory of Constraints. Understanding some of their foundations enables tailoring Amplio Scrum to a team’s needs. 

Scrum is founded on empiricism and lean thinking. Empiricism asserts that knowledge comes from experience and making decisions based on what is observed. Lean thinking reduces waste and focuses on the essentials.

Scrum employs an iterative, incremental approach to optimize predictability and to control risk. Scrum engages groups of people who collectively have all the skills and expertise to do the work and share or acquire such skills as needed.

Scrum combines four formal events for inspection and adaptation within a containing event, the Sprint. These events work because they implement the empirical Scrum pillars of transparency, inspection, and adaptation.

Amplio Comment.

Transparency, Inspection, and Adaptation are good. Transparency is a core capability of Amplio. Inspection and adaptation are also fine but are not sufficient for improving one’s understanding of what is happening. For that theory is needed.

“Experience teaches nothing. in fact there is no experience to record without theory… Without theory there is no learning… And that is their downfall. People copy examples and then wonder what is the trouble. They look at examples and without theory they learn nothing.” Edwards Deming.


The emergent process and work must be visible to those performing the work as well as those receiving the work. With Scrum, important decisions are based on the perceived state of its three formal artifacts. Artifacts that have low transparency can lead to decisions that diminish value and increase risk.

Transparency enables inspection. Inspection without transparency is misleading and wasteful.

#ScrumAdd See Create Visibility of Work and Workflow.


The Scrum artifacts and the progress toward agreed goals must be inspected frequently and diligently to detect potentially undesirable variances or problems. To help with inspection, Scrum provides cadence in the form of its five events.

Inspection enables adaptation. Inspection without adaptation is considered pointless. Scrum events are designed to provoke change.


If any aspects of a process deviate outside acceptable limits or if the resulting product is unacceptable, the process being applied or the materials being produced must be adjusted. The adjustment must be made as soon as possible to minimize further deviation.

Adaptation becomes more difficult when the people involved are not empowered or self-managing. A Scrum Team is expected to adapt the moment it learns anything new through inspection.

Scrum Values

#ScrumAdd Scrum values are great but ignore the question of what do you do if you don’t have them. We believe it’s important to follow Jerry Sternin’s mantra “It’s easier to act your way into a new way of thinking than think your way into a new way of acting.”  You can’t just put together a team and expect these values to take hold. Amplio takes the attitude that working together builds commitment, focus, openness, respect, courage, and trust.

Successful use of Scrum depends on people becoming more proficient in living five values:

Commitment, Focus, Openness, Respect, and Courage

The Scrum Team commits to achieving its goals and to supporting each other. Their primary focus is on the work of the Sprint to make the best possible progress toward these goals. The Scrum Team and its stakeholders are open about the work and the challenges. Scrum Team members respect each other to be capable, independent people, and are respected as such by the people with whom they work. The Scrum Team members have the courage to do the right thing, to work on tough problems.

These values give direction to the Scrum Team with regard to their work, actions, and behavior. The decisions that are made, the steps taken, and the way Scrum is used should reinforce these values, not diminish or undermine them. The Scrum Team members learn and explore the values as they work with the Scrum events and artifacts. When these values are embodied by the Scrum Team and the people they work with, the empirical Scrum pillars of transparency, inspection, and adaptation come to life building trust.

#Amplio Scrum Team

Amplio Comment. Scrum’s team is usually the ideal case. But cross-functional teams are not always possible or desirable when special skills that are in short supply are expensive to get. Even when that’s what we want, we need to know how to work until we can achieve them. Amplio provides methods that can be used while we are creating cross-functionality or instead of it. 

#ScrumSub Have an Effective Value Creation Structure

The fundamental unit of Scrum is a small team of people, a Scrum Team. The Scrum Team consists of one Scrum Master, one Product Owner, and Developers. Within a Scrum Team, there are no sub-teams or hierarchies. It is a cohesive unit of professionals focused on one objective at a time, the Product Goal.

Scrum Teams are cross-functional, meaning the members have all the skills necessary to create value each Sprint. They are also self-managing, meaning they internally decide who does what, when, and how.

The Scrum Team is small enough to remain nimble and large enough to complete significant work within a Sprint, typically 10 or fewer people. In general, we have found that smaller teams communicate better and are more productive. If Scrum Teams become too large, they should consider reorganizing into multiple cohesive Scrum Teams, each focused on the same product. Therefore, they should share the same Product Goal, Product Backlog, and Product Owner.

The Scrum Team is responsible for all product-related activities from stakeholder collaboration, verification, maintenance, operation, experimentation, research and development, and anything else that might be required. They are structured and empowered by the organization to manage their own work. Working in Sprints at a sustainable pace improves the Scrum Team’s focus and consistency.

The entire Scrum Team is accountable for creating a valuable, useful Increment every Sprint. Scrum defines three specific accountabilities within the Scrum Team: the Developers, the Product Owner, and the Scrum Master.


Developers are the people in the Scrum Team that are committed to creating any aspect of a usable Increment each Sprint.

The specific skills needed by the Developers are often broad and will vary with the domain of work. However, the Developers are always accountable for:

  • Creating a plan for the Sprint, the Sprint Backlog;
  • Instilling quality by adhering to a Definition of Done;
  • Adapting their plan each day toward the Sprint Goal; and,
  • Holding each other accountable as professionals.

#ScrumSub Product Owner

When Scrum first came into vogue about 20 years ago a common problem was that teams would get almost too tight with customers. It was hard to keep them focused on what the business side wanted them to work on. Instead, they were often overpromising to the customer what they would do.  I remember thinking that this role helped focus the team on what we needed and not have them run by the customer. 

But as is often the case with practice driven changes, they work well in some situations and not in others. There are two cases now where the role of the product owner is working against teams:

  1. Teams often find themselves separated from the customer by the product owners
  2. There are many situations where the team itself needs to be the product owner. This happens when they know more about what needs to be done than anyone outside of the team. This is not uncommon when a technical product is being built.

The point is, the strict definition of the product owner is not always the best one to use. Take a look to see who should play the role, and don’t be limited by Scrum’s constraint. 

The Product Owner is accountable for maximizing the value of the product resulting from the work of the Scrum Team. How this is done may vary widely across organizations, Scrum Teams, and individuals.

The Product Owner is also accountable for effective Product Backlog management, which includes:

  • Developing and explicitly communicating the Product Goal;
  • Creating and clearly communicating Product Backlog items;
  • Ordering Product Backlog items; and,
  • Ensuring that the Product Backlog is transparent, visible and understood.

The Product Owner may do the above work or may delegate the responsibility to others. Regardless, the Product Owner remains accountable.

For Product Owners to succeed, the entire organization must respect their decisions. These decisions are visible in the content and ordering of the Product Backlog, and through the inspectable Increment at the Sprint Review.

The Product Owner is one person, not a committee. The Product Owner may represent the needs of many stakeholders in the Product Backlog. Those wanting to change the Product Backlog can do so by trying to convince the Product Owner.

#ScrumSub Amplio Professional Coach (APC) Scrum Master

The APC is accountable for guiding their team to be effective. How they do this is described in the profession coach section of the Amplio Development book. The APC Scrum Master is accountable for establishing Amplio Scrum as defined in the Amplio Scrum Guide. They do this by helping everyone understand Lean’s first principles and Scrum theory and practice, both within the Amplio Scrum Team and the organization.

The APC Scrum Master is accountable for the Amplio Scrum Team’s effectiveness. They do this by enabling the Amplio Scrum Team to improve its practices, within the Amplio Scrum framework.

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

The APC Scrum Master serves the Amplio Scrum Team in several ways, including:

  • Coaching the team members in self-management and cross-functionality;
  • Helping the Scrum Team focus on creating high-value Increments that meet the Definition of Done;
  • Causing the removal of impediments to the Scrum Team’s progress; and,
  • Ensuring that all Scrum events take place and are positive, productive, and kept within the timebox.

The APC Scrum Master serves the Product Owner in several ways, including:

  • Helping find techniques for effective Product Goal definition and Product Backlog management;
  • Helping the Scrum Team understand the need for clear and concise Product Backlog items;
  • Helping establish empirical product planning for a complex environment; and,
  • Facilitating stakeholder collaboration as requested or needed.

The APC Scrum Master serves the organization in several ways, including:

  • Leading, training, and coaching the organization in its Scrum adoption;
  • Planning and advising Scrum implementations within the organization;
  • Helping employees and stakeholders understand and enact an empirical approach for complex work; and,
  • Removing barriers between stakeholders and Scrum Teams.

#ScrumSub Amplio Scrum Events

The Sprint is a container for all other events. Each event in APC Scrum is a formal opportunity to inspect and adapt Scrum artifacts. These events are specifically designed to enable the transparency required. Failure to operate any events as prescribed results in lost opportunities to inspect and adapt. Events are used in Scrum to create regularity and to minimize the need for meetings not defined in Scrum.

Optimally, all events are held at the same time and place to reduce complexity.

#ScrumSub Because Amplio Team is based on first principles, including flow, it is straightforward to use a flow or timeboxed model. See Timeboxing or Flow?) to see which would work better for your team.

#ScrumSub The Sprint

Teams need to decide whether to use Timeboxing or Flow. If they choose timeboxing, Scrum’s sprint is fine.  But timeboxing is not always the right approach. Alternatives to timeboxing (sprints) will be presented along with Scrum’s method.

Regardless of whether flow or timeboxing is being used, it’s important to Manage work in process (WIP) by focusing on finishing.

Sprints are the heartbeat of Scrum, where ideas are turned into value.

They are fixed-length events of one month or less to create consistency. A new Sprint starts immediately after the conclusion of the previous Sprint.

All the work necessary to achieve the Product Goal, including Sprint Planning, Daily Scrums, Sprint Review, and Sprint Retrospective, happen within Sprints.

During the Sprint:

  • No changes are made that would endanger the Sprint Goal;
  • Quality does not decrease;
  • The Product Backlog is refined as needed; and,
  • Scope may be clarified and renegotiated with the Product Owner as more is learned.

Sprints enable predictability by ensuring inspection and adaptation of progress toward a Product Goal at least every calendar month. When a Sprint’s horizon is too long the Sprint Goal may become invalid, complexity may rise, and risk may increase. Shorter Sprints can be employed to generate more learning cycles and limit risk of cost and effort to a smaller time frame. Each Sprint may be considered a short project.

Various practices exist to forecast progress, like burn-downs, burn-ups, or cumulative flows. While proven useful, these do not replace the importance of empiricism. In complex environments, what will happen is unknown. Only what has already happened may be used for forward-looking decision making.

A Sprint could be cancelled if the Sprint Goal becomes obsolete. Only the Product Owner has the authority to cancel the Sprint.

While making changes to the sprint is usually not advisable, the team needs to recognize that sometimes business conditions or things that have been learned make it advisable. However, if this happens a considerable amount of time it may be an indication that a flow model shoul be used. 

#ScrumSub Sprint Planning

Scrum pretty much ignores how to do Agile product management. Unfortunately, few teams figure out concepts like Minimum Business Increments on their own. Those that don’t end up wasting a lot of time working on stories that aren’t of maximum value. Planning, when it is being done, should be focused on what MBIs, or parts of an MBI, can be done.

Sprint Planning initiates the Sprint by laying out the work to be performed for the Sprint. This resulting plan is created by the collaborative work of the entire Scrum Team.

The Product Owner ensures that attendees are prepared to discuss the most important Product Backlog items and how they map to the Product Goal. The Scrum Team may also invite other people to attend Sprint Planning to provide advice.

Sprint Planning addresses the following topics:

Topic One: Why is this Sprint valuable?

The Product Owner proposes how the product could increase its value and utility in the current Sprint. The whole Scrum Team then collaborates to define a Sprint Goal that communicates why the Sprint is valuable to stakeholders. The Sprint Goal must be finalized prior to the end of Sprint Planning.

Topic Two: What can be Done this Sprint?

Through discussion with the Product Owner, the Developers select items from the Product Backlog to include in the current Sprint. The Scrum Team may refine these items during this process, which increases understanding and confidence.

Selecting how much can be completed within a Sprint may be challenging. However, the more the Developers know about their past performance, their upcoming capacity, and their Definition of Done, the more confident they will be in their Sprint forecasts.

Topic Three: How will the chosen work get done?

For each selected Product Backlog item, the Developers plan the work necessary to create an Increment that meets the Definition of Done. This is often done by decomposing Product Backlog items into smaller work items of one day or less. How this is done is at the sole discretion of the Developers. No one else tells them how to turn Product Backlog items into Increments of value.

The Sprint Goal, the Product Backlog items selected for the Sprint, plus the plan for delivering them are together referred to as the Sprint Backlog.

Sprint Planning is timeboxed to a maximum of eight hours for a one-month Sprint. For shorter Sprints, the event is usually shorter.

#ScrumSub Daily Scrum

The three questions “this is what I did”, “here’s what I’m working on”, and “here’s what’s blocking me” are so ubiquitous with Scrum that you’d think they are in the guide. But they aren’t. The fact that they’re so widespread I suspect stems from teams getting used to following what they’ve been told to do – and this was pretty much how all Scrum teams were trained two decades ago. A more effective way is laid out in the Keep Everyone Informed section. Note the comment after the struck out paragraph.

The purpose of the Daily Scrum is to inspect progress toward the Sprint Goal and adapt the Sprint Backlog as necessary, adjusting the upcoming planned work.

The Daily Scrum is a 15-minute event for the Developers of the Scrum Team. To reduce complexity, it is held at the same time and place every working day of the Sprint. If the Product Owner or  APC Scrum Master are actively working on items in the Sprint Backlog, they participate as Developers.

While it is often easier to have these events at the smae time it doesn’t always reduce complexity if people on the team have to attend meetings at times that makes this difficult. Simple does not always mean reducing complexity.

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.

Daily Scrums improve communications, identify impediments, promote quick decision-making, and consequently eliminate the need for other meetings.

The Daily Scrum is not the only time Developers are allowed to adjust their plan. They often meet throughout the day for more detailed discussions about adapting or re-planning the rest of the Sprint’s work.

Sprint Review

The purpose of the Sprint Review is to inspect the outcome of the Sprint and determine future adaptations. The Scrum Team presents the results of their work to key stakeholders and progress toward the Product Goal is discussed.

During the event, the Scrum Team and stakeholders review what was accomplished in the Sprint and what has changed in their environment. Based on this information, attendees collaborate on what to do next. The Product Backlog may also be adjusted to meet new opportunities. The Sprint Review is a working session and the Scrum Team should avoid limiting it to a presentation.

The Sprint Review is the second to last event of the Sprint and is timeboxed to a maximum of four hours for a one-month Sprint. For shorter Sprints, the event is usually shorter.

#ScrumSub Sprint Retrospective

The purpose of the Sprint Retrospective is to plan ways to increase quality and effectiveness.

The Scrum Team inspects how the last Sprint went with regards to individuals, interactions, processes, tools, and their Definition of Done. Inspected elements often vary with the domain of work. Assumptions that led them astray are identified and their origins explored. The Scrum Team discusses what went well during the Sprint, what problems it encountered, and how those problems were (or were not) solved.

The Scrum Team identifies the most helpful changes to improve its effectiveness. The most impactful improvements are addressed as soon as possible. They may even be added to the Sprint Backlog for the next Sprint.

The Sprint Retrospective concludes the Sprint. It is timeboxed to a maximum of three hours for a one-month Sprint. For shorter Sprints, the event is usually shorter.

Alternative timing. 

It is suggested that an alternative time for the retrospective be explored. Many teams find the end of the sprint to be a poorly chosen time to have a retrospection. Retrospections at this time do not afford an opportunity to improve your work until the next sprint. Holding retrospections during the sprint is often a way to improve your work at a faster pace. 

#ScrumAdd Scrum Artifacts

Teams need to use MBIs and MVPs. Whether they create a Sprint backlog or not depends upon whether timeboxing is being used. Read Agile Artifacts.

Scrum’s artifacts represent work or value. They are designed to maximize transparency of key information. Thus, everyone inspecting them has the same basis for adaptation.

Each artifact contains a commitment to ensure it provides information that enhances transparency and focus against which progress can be measured:

  • For the Product Backlog it is the Product Goal.
  • For the Sprint Backlog it is the Sprint Goal.
  • For the Increment it is the Definition of Done.

These commitments exist to reinforce empiricism and the Scrum values for the Scrum Team and their stakeholders.

Product Backlog

The Product Backlog is an emergent, ordered list of what is needed to improve the product. It is the single source of work undertaken by the Scrum Team.

Product Backlog items that can be done by the Scrum Team within one Sprint are deemed ready for selection in a Sprint Planning event. They usually acquire this degree of transparency after refining activities. Product Backlog refinement is the act of breaking down and further defining Product Backlog items into smaller more precise items. This is an ongoing activity to add details, such as a description, order, and size. Attributes often vary with the domain of work.

The Developers who will be doing the work are responsible for the sizing. The Product Owner may influence the Developers by helping them understand and select trade-offs.

Commitment: Product Goal

The Product Goal describes a future state of the product which can serve as a target for the Scrum Team to plan against. The Product Goal is in the Product Backlog. The rest of the Product Backlog emerges to define “what” will fulfill the Product Goal.

A product is a vehicle to deliver value. It has a clear boundary, known stakeholders, well-defined users or customers. A product could be a service, a physical product, or something more abstract.

The Product Goal is the long-term objective for the Scrum Team. They must fulfill (or abandon) one objective before taking on the next.

Sprint Backlog

The Sprint Backlog is composed of the Sprint Goal (why), the set of Product Backlog items selected for the Sprint (what), as well as an actionable plan for delivering the Increment (how).

The Sprint Backlog is a plan by and for the Developers. It is a highly visible, real-time picture of the work that the Developers plan to accomplish during the Sprint in order to achieve the Sprint Goal. Consequently, the Sprint Backlog is updated throughout the Sprint as more is learned. It should have enough detail that they can inspect their progress in the Daily Scrum.

Commitment: Sprint Goal

The Sprint Goal is the single objective for the Sprint. Although the Sprint Goal is a commitment by the Developers, it provides flexibility in terms of the exact work needed to achieve it. The Sprint Goal also creates coherence and focus, encouraging the Scrum Team to work together rather than on separate initiatives.

The Sprint Goal is created during the Sprint Planning event and then added to the Sprint Backlog. As the Developers work during the Sprint, they keep the Sprint Goal in mind. If the work turns out to be different than they expected, they collaborate with the Product Owner to negotiate the scope of the Sprint Backlog within the Sprint without affecting the Sprint Goal.


An Increment is a concrete stepping stone toward the Product Goal. Each Increment is additive to all prior Increments and thoroughly verified, ensuring that all Increments work together. In order to provide value, the Increment must be usable.

Multiple Increments may be created within a Sprint. The sum of the Increments is presented at the Sprint Review thus supporting empiricism. However, an Increment may be delivered to stakeholders prior to the end of the Sprint. The Sprint Review should never be considered a gate to releasing value.

Work cannot be considered part of an Increment unless it meets the Definition of Done.

Commitment: Definition of Done

The Definition of Done is a formal description of the state of the Increment when it meets the quality measures required for the product.

The moment a Product Backlog item meets the Definition of Done, an Increment is born.

The Definition of Done creates transparency by providing everyone a shared understanding of what work was completed as part of the Increment. If a Product Backlog item does not meet the Definition of Done, it cannot be released or even presented at the Sprint Review. Instead, it returns to the Product Backlog for future consideration.

If the Definition of Done for an increment is part of the standards of the organization, all Scrum Teams must follow it as a minimum. If it is not an organizational standard, the Scrum Team must create a Definition of Done appropriate for the product.

The Developers are required to conform to the Definition of Done. If there are multiple Scrum Teams working together on a product, they must mutually define and comply with the same Definition of Done.

End Note

Scrum is free and offered in this Guide. The Scrum framework, as outlined herein, is immutable. While implementing only parts of Scrum is possible, the result is not Scrum. Scrum exists only in its entirety and functions well as a container for other techniques, methodologies, and practices.

© 2020 Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland This publication is offered for license under the Attribution Share-Alike license of Creative Commons, accessible at and also described in summary form at By utilizing this Scrum Guide, 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.

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