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Scrum and Kanban: Is there a War?

· Agile Zone

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Many interesting posts and discussions about Scrum and Kanban published last weeks. Someone even called this a war :) I don’t think it is a war, but some posts indeed may drive such feeling.

  • Ken Schwaber bashed Kanban. “I was told that Kanban is frequently used when an organization cannot readily adopt Scrum. Many of Scrum most difficult aspects are then sidestepped. Managers are still in charge of telling people what to do. People can be interrupted at any time. People are still work in functional silos, preserving the jobs of functional managers. People are not allowed to work in containers, sharing skills and knowledge to bring complexity into solutions – instead they are worked on a pull (more sophisticated than push) production line.”
  • Karl Scotland discusses Scrum and Kanban difference as Intentional vs. Implementational approaches. Interesting perspective in fact. Karl thinks that Kanban can be used with Scrum to reveal even more problems in development process.
  • David J. Anderson posted the most rational article about Scrum and Kanban difference. I like it a lot. Some phrases are true gems: “Kanban is not a project management or software development lifecycle method. It is an approach to change management - a framework for catalyzing change in an organization.” and “Kanban uses a WIP limit as a change agent and Scrum uses commitments. This is a fundamental difference in approach.” David also posted some reflections later with interesting thoughts about anarchy and science.
  • A year ago Tobias Mayer didn’t believe that it is possible to use Kanban at all. “I fundamentally disbelieve that there is any such thing as a “value stream” when you are working in a complex environment, in a creative process, building new products or generating new ideas.”


I think Ken is wrong. His arguments against Lean and Kanban quite ridiculous. Sure there is no intention to treat software development as a factory and apply lean manufacturing principles blindly. Of course there are people who will try (or already tried) that and fail. But vast majority of lean community in software development do understand the difference and working on concrete practices. Lean philosophy is great, but tools and practices can’t be taken from manufacturing directly.

Pull system is more complex than Push? C’mon!

David has wise arguments and perfect position. I think Kanban will be more popular than Scrum in long-term perspective, but it will take time. Visualization is a key thing to manage complexity, and software development is a complex system.

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Published at DZone with permission of Michael Dubakov, DZone MVB. See the original article here.

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