Why does the Scrum Guide call out useable v. potentially releasable product increment


The Scrum Guide says this about the Sprint

The heart of Scrum is a Sprint, a time-box of one month or less during which a “Done”, useable, and potentially releasable product Increment is created.

I’m wondering why it calls out usable - It seems to me that “Potentially Releasable” implicitly infers usable - if it’s not usable it’s not releasable


Is this to cover off the situation where a team might choose to have some kind of technical sprint where they don’t build any usable functionality?

or something else?

The Artefacts section separates them out

The increment must be in useable condition regardless of whether the Product Owner decides to release it.

I know that the word is there for a reason, I would like to know for sure ( not guessing ) what the exact reason is.



Good question @Simon

Maybe some clues here:


Perhaps, like most “HR Policies”… the distinction made by the Guide is due to a few bad actors?


Thanks Andy, I read those articles ( I’d already found the Mike Cohn one). I especially like the Ron Jeffries article, that’s a great explanation I’m keeping for the future.

My current thinking is that the wording covers two situations.

  1. Software that is usable in isolation but if released would break existing functionality
  2. Software that could be released because it has no affect on existing functionality, but isn’t usable either.

Like you say, perhaps it’s there to fend off bad actors - because the intent seems fairly clear to me, even without both terms