What Is Scrum?

The goal for this series of posts is to help you learn about Scrum in short and easy steps. The total reading time is less than 15 minutes.

Scrum is an agile framework for completing complex work. It helps people manage and deliver products & services where there is a high level of uncertainty and change.

Scrum is simple to learn and use. It helps people to work iteratively & incrementally using an empirical approach. Empiricism encourages increased Transparency, Inspection, Adaptation. It is designed to expose issues and real progress as early as possible and encourage us to make changes to increase value delivery.

Scrum was created by Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland in the 1990s. It is now used by tens of millions of people all over the world and this number is growing rapidly. You can read the Scrum Guide for the official definition of Scrum.

Scrum is comprised of 3 Accountabilities, 5 Events, 3 Artifacts, 3 Commitments, and additional values, rules, and recommendations. These help to guide people’s relationships and interactions to maximize the value delivered when doing complex work.

Scrum is simple:

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

Path of the scrum Master


Scrum Accountabilities

The fundamental organizational unit of Scrum is the Scrum Team. They are accountable for creating a valuable, useful Increment every Sprint. Inside the Scrum Team there are 3 accountabilities:

      1. Product Owner
      2. Scrum Master
      3. Developers

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

The Scrum Team is small, typically 10 or fewer people to enable better communication better and increased productivity. Within a Scrum Team, there are no sub-teams or hierarchies.


The Product Owner

The Product Owner is accountable for maximizing the value of the product resulting from the work of the Scrum Team. Although others may assist, they are accountable for effective Product Backlog management.

For Scrum to succeed and value to be delivered efficiently, the organization must recognize, respect, and support the Product Owner.

The Product Owner is accountable for “what” is developed.


The Developers are committed to creating any aspect of a usable Increment for each Sprint. They are accountable for the Sprint Backlog and for the technical quality of the product.

The Developers include anyone who works to create the product, whatever skillset they may have.

They are accountable for “how” the product is developed

The Scrum Master

The Scrum Master is accountable for establishing Scrum and helping everyone understand and use it, both within the Scrum Team and the organization.

The Scrum Master is accountable for the Scrum Team’s effectiveness. They help create the conditions for effective delivery through facilitation, coaching, teaching, and mentoring. They provide delivery leadership whilst at the same time acting as a servant who helps remove impediments to the Scrum Teams’ progress.

The Scrum Master is accountable for the “who”, for how people use Scrum and interact and collaborate to deliver value.


Scrum Events

The 5 Scrum events are used to provide structured opportunities for Inspection & Adaptation. The events are:

    1. The Sprint
    2. Sprint Planning
    3. Daily Scrum
    4. Sprint Review
    5. Sprint Retrospective

The Sprint

The Sprint is a timebox of one month or less, during which a Done Increment is created that achieves a Sprint Goal. Sprint length should remain consistent over time.

The Sprint is a container event and includes the other Scrum events and all the work to create the Increment.

Sprint Planning

Sprint Planning occurs at the start of each Sprint and is timeboxed to 8 hours. The Scrum Team attends.

The result of Sprint Planning is a Sprint Backlog that details the work to be carried out in the Sprint including a plan of how it will be done and a Sprint Goal that explains why they work is valuable.

Daily Scrum

The Daily Scrum is a 15-minute timeboxed event that is held every working day. It is for the Developers to plan their next 24 hours and inspect progress toward the Sprint Goal. The structure of the Daily Scrum is set by the Developers.

Sprint Review

The Sprint Review is held at the end of each Sprint and is timeboxed to 4 hours. The Scrum Team and stakeholders attend.

The purpose is to inspect the Increment, progress towards the Product Goal and to adapt the Product Backlog to include new insights.

Sprint Retrospective

The Sprint Retrospective is held at the end of each Sprint, after the Sprint Review and is timeboxed to 3 hours. The Scrum Team attend. The purpose is to identify and plan improvements to increase effectiveness.

During the event, the Scrum Team inspects how the last Sprint went with regards to individuals, interactions, processes, tools, and their Definition of Done in order to plan the improvements.

Scrum Artifacts

Scrum’s artifacts represent work or value to provide transparency and opportunities for inspection and adaptation. The artifacts are:

  1. Product Backlog
  2. Sprint Backlog
  3. Increment

Product Backlog

The Product Backlog is a transparent and ordered list of known and valuable work. It is the single source of work for the Scrum Team. By the time a Product Backlog item (PBI) reaches the top of the Product Backlog, it must have been refined to a ready state meaning enough is known, and it is small enough to be taken into a Sprint.

The Product Owner is accountable for the Product Backlog although others may assist them to manage it. Changes in business requirements, market conditions, or technology may cause changes in the Product Backlog.

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).

It represents a forecast by the Developers about what valuable work will be in the next Increment and it makes this work visible. It has enough detail that progress can be inspected at the Daily Scrum. The Developers may modify the Sprint Backlog throughout the Sprint as more is learned about the best way to complete the work.


An Increment is a body of inspectable, useable, and Done work that supports empiricism. It is the sum of all the Product Backlog items Done during a Sprint and the Increments of all previous Sprints.

For work to form part of Increment it must meet The Definition of Done. The Increment is a tangible step towards a Product Goal and is inspected in the Sprint Review.

At the end of a Sprint, any work that did not meet the Definition of Done is returned to the Product Backlog.

Scrum Commitments

Each of the artifacts in Scrum contains a commitment to them which bring transparency and focus to the artifacts:

    1. The Product Backlog has the Product Goal
    2. The Sprint Backlog has the Sprint Goal
    3. The Increment has the Definition of Done

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

Sprint Goal

The Sprint Goal is the single objective for the Sprint. It explains why the work in the Sprint Backlog is valuable.

A Sprint Goal is an output of the Sprint Planning event and forms part of the Sprint Backlog. Every Sprint must have a Sprint Goal. A good Sprint Goal provides focus, flexibility and purpose.

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

The Definition of Done supports effective inspection of the Increment and Product Backlog as everyone is aware of the work that Done and what work is not Done.

Learn More About Scrum

Here is a quick recap of everything we have covered about Scrum so far:

Scrum is a framework to help us manage change when doing complex work. It is designed to help us deliver a product of the highest possible value.

The Product Goal represents the long-term objective for the Scrum Team and details why it is valuable. The work to achieve this is held in an ordered Product Backlog which the Product Owner is accountable for. A Definition of Done helps us understand the quality required for the Increment.

Work is completed in Sprints of less than 1 month. At the beginning of each Sprint, The Scrum Team conducts the Sprint Planning event. Here they set a Sprint Goal that explains why we are completing the work. The work to be done and a plan of how to do it is captured in the Sprint Backlog which the Developers are accountable for.

During the Sprint, a self-managing and cross-functional Scrum Team carries out the work with the aim of producing a usable, Done Increment that meets the Sprint Goal by the end of the Sprint. Developers meet each day at the Daily Scrum to revisit and adapt the Sprint Backlog for the next 24 hours.

At the end of the Sprint, the Increment is inspected by the Scrum Team and stakeholders at a Sprint Review. Adaptions to the Product Backlog often result as more will now be known about the product and the domain within which we are operating.

In the Sprint Retrospective, the Scrum Team plans ways to overcome issues and improve its ability to create the product.

Keep Learning

The goal for this series of posts was to help you learn about Scrum in a short and easy way. This is enough to cover the basics, but there is a lot more to learn. Learning more is vital if you want to succeed with Scrum. Here are some resources to help you:

  1. Top Books to be a Master in Scrum


      2. PRACTICE:

    • Try to engage in discussions and practicing Scrum fundamentals with businesses in your local areas or online. Feel free to join active user groups and actively participate in those discussions. 

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    • Practice free open assessments (all of them) at scrum.org until you get a 100% score multiple times in a row.
    • Start quietly applying Scrum in your workplace. As you do, stop to reflect on whether you’re taking advantage of all of the opportunities that the Scrum framework offers.
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