Cheat Sheets: Scrum vs Kanban vs Scrumban

Episode 144 - 13 May 2020

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Scrum. Kanban. Scrumban.

If you found this video, chances are you were just searching for one or more of the above.

Excellent! Not only do I have a great EPISODE for you.

I also have not one but THREE rather lovely cheat sheets

Let’s start with the easy one: Scrum.

Scrum traces its history back to 1986

Over more than a decade, Messers Schwarber and Sutherland - and sometime Beadle developed the Scrum framework.

With The Scrum Guide making its debut in 2010.

The Scrum Guide was a masterstroke.

It’s free. It’s freely available. It’s helped to propel Scrum to its current position as the dominant Agile framework/

Thanks to the near-ubiquity of the Scrum Guide, the vast majority of teams that are “doing Scrum” know what “ Scrum Guide”-compliant” Scrum looks like.

Although Scrum has many moving parts, it’s not descriptive: it tells you WHAT to do… not HOW to do it: Framework rather than methodology.

Enjoy that clarity for a second.

Scrum. A Framework. Definitely.

Let’s move on to Kanban.

kanban - at its heart/origin - is neither methodology nor framework: it’s a set of principles. These principles:

  • Visualise the work
  • Limit WIP
  • Focus on flow
  • Continuous improvement

Because kanban is a set of principles, it has a wide application. From factories to supermarkets to coffee shops to restaurants.

Kanban is far older than Scrum - tracing its roots that go back to the 1940s.

But it wasn’t until the naughties that it made its presence felt in our Agile world.

In 2004 David J Anderson published Kanban Method, followed by his book "Kanban - Successful evolutionary change for your technology business" in 2010.

Have we found Kanban the Framework? Let’s see what the author says:

“[...] I describe Kanban (capital “K”) as the evolutionary change method that utilizes a kanban (small k) pull system, visualisation, and other tools in order to catalyze the introduction of Lean ideas into technology development and IT Operations.”

Oh. Method. Not Framework. Which kind of puts me in a bind:

On the left, Scrum. A Framework. And - thanks to The Scrum Guide - well-defined framework. Sharp focus.

On the right we have Kanban. Out of focus.

In the decade since this book, one might have expected a Kanban Guide to appear. To bring the “Kanban the Framework” into sharp focus.

But it hasn’t arrived. So we’re left with something that’s more “concept” than “concrete”.

But a convenient concept all the same: If you’ve been with me for a while, you’ll know that I often talk about Scrum and Kanban “the Agile Frameworks”.

Although there is no “Kanban Guide”, if your team plans to “Do Kanban”, then this book is the book I’d recommend.

Unless that is, you’re currently doing Scrum.

Anderson wasn’t the only looking at applying those kanban principles technology development and IT Operations” in the naughties.

In 2008 Corey Ladas threw his hat into the ring, publishing "Scrum-ban" and his book "Scrumban" a year later.

If you’ve heard the word Scrumban before, you may have assumed - like I did - that it's a hybrid - a halfway house between Scrum and Kanban.

But read the book and you’ll find that Corey Ladas - like David J Anderson - focuses on the application of those kanban principles.

But UNLIKE Anderson, Ladas defines a very clear starting point: Scrum.

A couple of things to say about that:

  1. Corey Ladas was super-Smart to target the dominant Agile framework at the time, which of course was Scrum.

  2. I don’t consider Scrumban to be a framework; I prefer to describe it as a PATHWAY. A pathway between Scrum the Framework and Kanban the conceptual Framework.

  3. There’s a massive benefit for those of you doing Scrum

As I said this book - Scrumban - is aimed at you!

If you are doing Scrum and you pick up this book and follow it all the way to the end, you won’t be doing Scrum any more.

But you’ll be halfway through the book - more than half! - before that happens!

The first half of the book is about applying those kanban principles to Scrum… while remaining 100% Scrum Guide compliant!

When I figured this out, I went all-in on Scrumban. Not content with Cheat Sheet I created a full-blown course: The Scrumban Blueprint.