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Scrum: A Brief History of a Long-Lived Hype

Scrum has been around for a while, they say. The Scrum Guide holds the definition of Scrum, they say. The first, official version of the Scrum Guide was released in February 2010. So, how was Scrum defined before 2010 then? How did its definition evolve before and after 2010 and become the framework that we know today? What else happened along the road to the way that Scrum is defined and represented?

In the paper “Scrum: A Brief History of a Long-Lived Hype” I have described what changed to the definition and representation of Scrum over time, before and after the creation of the Scrum Guide. It shows how Scrum evolved into the framework that we know today since its first formal introduction in 1995. Because a touch of historical awareness is more than helpful in understanding Scrum and caring for the future of Scrum.

I looked for sources that are not just credible in terms of authorship but also offer regular enough check points. In the end, the sources I used for describing the evolutions of the definition of Scrum are:

  • The paper “SCRUM Software Development Process” by Ken Schwaber (1995, 1996)
  • The paper “SCRUM: An extension pattern language for hyperproductive software development” by Mike Beedle, Martine Devos, Yonat Sharon, Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland (1999)
  • The book “Agile Software Development with Scrum” by Ken Schwaber and Mike Beedle (2002)
  • The book “Agile Project Management with Scrum” by Ken Schwaber (2004)
  • The book “The Enterprise and Scrum” by Ken Schwaber (2007)
  • “The Scrum Guide” by Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland (2009, 2010)
  • “The Scrum Guide” by Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland (2011, 2013, 2016, 2017)
  • “The Scrum Guide” by Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland (2020)

For every source I have described the same three topics to show what Scrum consisted of at the time (regardless the different terms used), what the ‘definition’ of Scrum was at the time:

  1. Roles, responsibilities, accountabilities
  2. Controls, deliverables, artifacts
  3. Phases, meetings, time-boxes, events

For every source I have included a graphical representation of Scrum or of a Sprint that was either taken from the source directly, either from an alternative source of the same period.

Finally, I have shared my thoughts and observations on the changes to the definition of Scrum for every source. Obviously, they represent what I deem noticeable. They hold no judgement, directly nor indirectly.

To complete the paper I have listed some important landmarks in the history of Scrum and included some personal musings on the topic of “Scrum and the Desire for Universal Truths” (and what the Scrum Guide was not created for).

I hope you will enjoy reading the paper. I hope it will help you grow a deeper understanding of Scrum. I hope it will help you shape your Scrum to get the most from it. I hope it will help you create better products with Scrum while humanizing your workplace.

Take care
Gunther Verheyen
independent Scrum Caretaker

2 thoughts on “Scrum: A Brief History of a Long-Lived Hype

  1. Gunther – great read; I liked how you articulated the paper… One thing I think that would be interesting is when the Scrum Alliance Board was created who was on the SA board over different periods of time (as well as perhaps when the split occurred). It may show an interesting correlation in when things were added/changed.

    1. Thanks for the words of appreciation, Paul. What you suggest might indeed provide additional insights in why changes happened, but I preferred staying away from any form of judgement.

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