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What is Scrum?

Scrum is an Agile framework co-created by Jeff Sutherland and Ken Schwaber after years of working with teams in software engineering environments.

From 1993 to 1995, they co-developed the Scrum framework and published the Scrum Guide with the objective of helping software development teams do twice the work in half the time.

In 2001, both men were also part of the seventeen engineers who co-created the Agile Manifesto.

Scrum versus Project Management

In complicated environments such as civil engineering, many of the variables are known. People know how and when to build bridges, and they often know the best way to build those bridges too.

In simple and complicated applications, a traditional waterfall-style of project management can be applied with great success and up until the mid-90s, most organisations used this style of project management to achieve their product and project objectives regardless of application.

In complex environments, however, many of the variables are unknown and due to the interconnected nature of software and design environments, many of those variables can change based on a complex array of unknown factors and conditions.

As such, the authors of Scrum (and later, the Agile Manifesto) sought to create a lightweight framework for product development that enabled teams to work on the most valuable products, features and services through a process of continuous inspection, adaptation and improvement.

The intention of Scrum was to enable developers to learn continuously through a process of creating and collecting empirical evidence, and to use regular inspection and adaptation as a methodology to correct course, as and when necessary, given the known circumstances and requirements.

In short, a new style of working that enabled creators to both discover and create solutions, products and services when those elements did not exist or were unknown in those industries.


Scrum is defined as a lightweight framework that helps people, teams and organisations generate value through adaptive solutions for complex problems.


Scrum is founded on empiricism and lean thinking. Empiricism asserts that knowledge comes from experience based on what is observed. Lean thinking reduces waste and focuses on the essentials.

Scrum employs an iterative, incremental approach to optimize predictability and to control risk.

Scrum as a scaffolding

In its simplest form, Scrum is a way of building complex products and services. It is helpful to think of Scrum as the scaffolding you see around a building site.

Whilst you cannot see the specific details of the building because they have not been created and formed yet, you can get a general idea of width, height and layout.

The scaffolding allows the builders to create a rough form and slowly but surely create the details such as windows, doorways and any decorative elements.

The scaffolding does not contain those details, it simply facilitates a methodology for builders and artisans to produce beautiful work.

The scaffolding enables cross-functional teams with the necessary skills and expertise to work on the most valuable work and adapt or respond to the environment in which they are working to ensure that their time and efforts are not wasted or misdirected.

In essence, the scaffolding is the minimum you need to solve a complex problem in the building environment. The various roles of artisans and builders, as well as the events and artefacts that govern how they work, are all contained within the scaffolding and framework.

The roles, events and artefacts that govern the Scrum Framework work in much the same way.

Visit ‘what is a Scrum Team’ to find out more about the roles within the Scrum Framework and visit our Scrum Master and Product Owner sections to find out more about these roles within the framework.

If you are interested in becoming a Scrum Master, visit our Certified Scrum Master page.