7 items that you might think are part of Scrum but aren’t

Scrum is a framework — not a set of practices

Several topics are often mixed up with Scrum, but aren’t actually part of Scrum. While some of these things can work perfectly with Scrum I find it important to mention that they in fact aren’t Scrum as it would limit your options with Scrum.

User Stories and Epics

The User Story has it’s origins in Extreme Programming. The term Epic was introduced by Mike Cohn. Scrum doesn’t use terms like ‘epic’ or ‘user story’. Scrum talks about Product Backlog Items. This doesn’t mean that you aren’t allowed to use these terms. Scrum is a framework and it gives you the room to use terms like Story and Epic. But you can use other terms/work in other ways as well.

Story points

As Story Points are related to Stories the logical conclusion is that Story Points also do not exist within Scrum. And indeed that is the case. Scrum does not prescribe how to estimate the Product Backlog Items. Story Point estimating is A way, not THE way. Other ways are, for example: counting Product Backlog Items, T-Shirt sizing, affinity estimating.

Planning Poker

Planning Poker came to light in 2002 and was popularized by Mike Cohn. This popular way of planning with the whole team is often used by Scrum Teams. As Scrum does not prescribe how to estimate the Product Backlog this is also a complementary practice.

Scrum Board

The Scrum Board generally is a Kanban Board. Mary and Tom Poppendieck introduced this within the realms of software development with their book “Lean Software Development”. The Scrum Board as a visual display of the progress of the team during a sprint is nowhere to be found in the Scrum Guide. It can be very useful indeed, but Scrum doesn’t prescribe how you visualize your Sprint Backlog.

Sprint 0, Hardening Sprints, Design Sprints

All these types of Sprints are created to either prepare for software development or to finalize a number of topics before the software is releasable. Scrum doesn’t recognize these. What’s more:

“The heart of Scrum is a Sprint, a time-box of one month or less during which a “Done”, useable, and potentially releasable product Increment is created.” — SG

Sprint 0, Design Sprints, Hardening Sprints all are a sign that the team has difficulty/trouble creating potentially releasable increments.

Project, Product, Portfolio, Account managers

Scrum only knows the Scrum Master, Product Owner and Development Team. There is no other role within Scrum.

It is pivotal that the following are in place:

  • The Development Team is self-organizing. No one tells them how to turn Product Backlog into Increments of potentially releasable functionality;
  • The Product Owner is the sole person responsible for managing the Product Backlog.
  • The Scrum Master is a servant-leader for the Scrum Team.

Whatever roles exist in a company, they should not impact the above.

Scrum of Scrums

The Scrum Guide does not speak of this event. it only knows:

  • The Sprint
  • Sprint Planning
  • Daily Scrum
  • Sprint Review
  • Sprint Retrospective

A Scrum of Scrum is part of a complementary practice of scaling product and software delivery initiatives. It is part of the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe). Nexus, one of the other scaling frameworks, has a similar event called daily Nexus.

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Thank you for taking your time to read seriously. Thanks to Sjoerd Nijland for his contribution!