This post was inspired by a recent conversation with a colleague about the evolving role of the Scrum Master and the words found in the 2017 Scrum Guide that led my colleague to vanish from the Scrum world, thinking it was a scam. 

In the ever-evolving landscape of Agile methodologies, the Scrum Guide has served as a beacon for countless teams striving for excellence in project management and product development. The 2017 edition of the Scrum Guide, in particular, left an indelible mark on how we understand and implement Scrum in our daily operations. However, as we stand on the threshold of new iterations and enhancements in Scrum practices, it’s crucial to reflect on the remnants of the 2017 guide and how they shape our current understanding and application of Scrum.

One of the core tenets the 2017 Scrum Guide emphasized was the role of the Scrum Master in “promoting and supporting Scrum as defined in the Scrum Guide.” This pivotal statement, while foundational, led to a mechanical interpretation of Scrum—focusing on events, artifacts, and roles with a rigidity that could sometimes overshadow the essence of Scrum itself: Empiricism.

Empiricism Over Mechanics

Empiricism, the heart of Scrum, is grounded in knowledge derived from experience and making decisions based on what is known. This principle encourages continuous inspection, adaptation, and transparency, allowing teams to navigate the complexities of product development with agility and confidence. Yet, the remnants of the 2017 guide have, at times, led to a mechanical approach to Scrum and inadvertently limited the dynamic and flexible nature of empirical learning and growth.

From Mechanical to Meaningful

The journey from a mechanical to a more meaningful application of Scrum involves a shift in mindset—from merely following the guide as a set of instructions to understanding the principles and values that underpin it. This shift requires us to:

Re-evaluate the Scrum Master’s Role: Beyond facilitating Scrum events, the Scrum Master should act as a coach and mentor, fostering an environment where empiricism can thrive through open communication, reflection, and continuous improvement.

Embrace Uncertainty: Recognizing that complexity and uncertainty are inherent in product development, we must embrace empiricism as a tool for navigating these challenges, rather than adhering strictly to prescribed events, timelines and tasks lists. 

Focus on Value Creation: The ultimate goal of adopting Scrum is to deliver value to stakeholders. This means prioritizing outcomes over outputs, and adaptability over adherence to plans, thereby ensuring that the team’s efforts are aligned with the evolving needs of the project and its beneficiaries.

Looking Forward

As we move beyond the remnants of the 2017 Scrum Guide, it’s imperative that we carry forward the lessons learned into our current practices. The 2020 update to the Scrum Guide introduced several changes, including a reemphasis on the Scrum Team’s accountability and the removal of prescriptive language, further encouraging teams to adapt Scrum to their unique contexts.

In embracing the evolution of Scrum, we must not lose sight of its empirical foundations. Let us use the remnants of the past as stepping stones towards a more flexible, adaptive, and effective application of Scrum. By doing so, we honor the essence of Agile—responding to change with insight, innovation, and resilience.


The remnants of the 2017 Scrum Guide serve as a reminder of our ongoing journey in Agile practices. By reflecting on our experiences and adapting our approaches, we continue to grow and improve, individually and as teams. Let’s commit to a deeper understanding and application of Scrum, where empiricism guides us towards excellence and innovation in an ever-changing world.

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