Self-Management Replaces Self-Organisation

The term self-organisation has been removed from the Scrum Guide and replaced with self-management.

In the change notes that Ken & Jeff released along with the new version they mentioned the following (the bold emphasis is my own):

“Previous Scrum Guides referred to Development Teams as self-organizing, choosing who and how to do work.

With more of a focus on the Scrum Team, the 2020 version describes a self-managing Scrum Team, choosing who, how, and what to work on.”

Various definitions of self-organisation and self-management exist beyond the Scrum Guide. However, the intention of the change of terminology by Ken & Jeff appears clear in scope. Self-managing teams also choose what to work on. This may not have been true for self-organising teams.

The change here is an effort to move us away from a common miss-understanding around Scrum. In the past, it was common for people using Scrum to believe that the work a Scrum Team carries out would be defined externally to the Scrum Team, by stakeholders or at best by a Product Owner. The Development Team would be about developing the product, rather than also working out what to develop to make a valuable product.

In reality, this was never the intention in Scrum. In our Scrum classes, we have long discussed how the Scrum Team should be involved in figuring out what work is valuable. Part of developing a product is figuring out what the product should be. Courses such as Professional Scrum With User Experience have long covered why this important and how and when to do it, so these concepts are nothing new.

So the change from self-organisation to self-management is to emphasise the need for the Scrum Team to be fully involved in working out what to do and thus contributing to the contents of the Product Backlog. The Product Owner may have additional accountabilities in this area, but it is the Scrum Team that decides what work will be carried out.