What IS Scrum? And how much does it matter?

What IS Scrum? And how much does it matter?

You are currently viewing What IS Scrum? And how much does it matter?

I just watched a video by Mishkin Berteig where he clarified that the concept of a Sprint #0 is NOT part of Scrum.

A few weeks ago, a colleague of mine tweeted about the concept of Hardening Sprints. If you’re aware, the Scaled Agile Framework has “dabbled” with hardening sprints and other “extensions” to Scrum. Ron Jeffrey’s strongly, clearly, and repeatedly responded that hardening sprints are NOT part of Scrum. It became physically painful as Ron pounded his point over and over again in tweets.

I’m an insider (a CEC) to the Scrum Alliance CST & CEC discussion group. Some of the most heated discussions I’ve ever seen there revolved around the definition of Core Scrum in the Agile Atlas. This was before the Scrum Alliance centered on the Scrum Guide as the clear definition of Scrum.

And finally, and this is a true story, I was once threatened with the loss of my certification because I was a proponent of hardening sprints. I.e., I was violating the definition of Scrum. You can read more about it here.

But to be clear, I’m not some wild man or terrorist trying to undermine the nature of Scrum. And I’ve been a user of Scrum almost as long as the founders, so I do have some experience.  I also have a profound respect for what Jeff Sutherland, Ken Schwaber, Mike Beedle, and others have contributed to that agile approach called Scrum.

But Bob, please stop rambling and get to your point.


I want to encourage readers to comment about their views towards the sanctity of the definition of Scrum.

  • How important is it to crisply define what IS and IS NOT Scrum? Why?
  • What happens if we don’t do that? For example, I don’t recall that Kent Beck came out in defense of Extreme Programming’s definition. And it seemed to do fine. 
  • Does it have something to do with the certifications? 
  • Or is it simply some purist or religious pursuit that we’ll never get away from? 
  • And finally, if it IS important, why is there so much debate around the topic of what is IN vs. OUT by some very experienced practitioners?

I just wanted to generate some discussion. And trust me, this is not some trick. I really do want to better understand the dynamics of it.

To be clear, I do not want responses to debate specific practices or techniques that are in or have been associated with Scrum. I actually want to step up a level and discuss the overall definition itself. And why it’s important to keep it “pure”.

I’m really looking forward to understanding this better and I hope you can help.

Stay agile my friends,


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