Kanban vs Scrum

Reading Time: 2 minutes

There’s a lot of buzz on Kanban right now in the agile software development community. Since Scrum has become quite mainstream now, a common question is “so what is Kanban, and how does it compare to Scrum?” Where do they complement each other? Are there any potential conflicts? Here’s an attempt to clear up some of the fog.

  • Jim: “Now we’ve finally gone all-out Scrum!”
  • Fred: “ So how’s it going?”
  • Jim:  “Well, it’s a lot better than what we had before…”
  • Fred: “…but?”
  • Jim: “… but you see we are a support & maintainance team.”
  • Fred: “yes, and?”
  • Jim: “Well, we love the whole thing about sorting priorities in a product backlog, self-organizing teams, daily scrums, retrospectives, etc….”
  • Fred: “So what’s the problem?”
  • Jim: “We keep failing our sprints”
  • Fred: “Why?”
  • Jim: “Because we find it hard to commit to a 2 week plan. Iterations don’t make to much sense to us, we just work on whatever is most urgent for today. Should we do 1 week iterations perhaps?
  • Fred: “Could you commit to 1 week of work? Will you be allowed to focus and work in peace for 1 week?”
  • Jim: “Not really, we get issues popping up on a daily basis. Maybe if we did 1 day sprints…”
  • Fred: “Do your issues take less than a day to fix?”
  • Jim: “No, they sometimes take several days”
  • Fred: “So 1-day sprints wouldn’t work either. Have you considered ditching sprints entirely?”
  • Jim: “Well, frankly, we would like that. But isn’t that against Scrum?”
  • Fred: “Scrum is just a tool. You choose when and how to use it. Don’t be a slave to it!”
  • Jim: “So what should we do then?”
  • Fred: “Have you heard of Kanban?”
  • Jim: “What’s that? What’s the difference between that and Scrum?”
  • Fred: “Here, read this article!”
  • Jim: “But I really like the rest of Scrum though, do I have to switch now?”
  • Fred: “No, you can combine the techniques!”
  • Jim: “What? How?”
  • Fred: “Just read it…”