Scrum and Kanban – Which one to use?

Scrum and Kanban – Which one to use?

Scrum is the most popular Agile methodology with Kanban a growing second choice. Learn about the core parts of each one as well as how they differ so that you can find the best fit for your team or organizational context. For example, Scrum is great when you want to shake up the status quo and transform the way you work. Kanban is great when small changes are a better fit for the environment. Learn how they work and how you can use them in your environment. Scrum and Kanban – Getting the Most from Each from Michael Sahota How to Choose Between Scrum and Kanban Scrum will be more successful in environments where it’s requirements are met. If you have all six, Scrum is great. When you start loosing important bits of context it becomes more difficult. Kanban is much more fault-tolerant and work in many more contexts. The Big Question I see choosing Scrum and Kanban as secondary to the larger questions around Culture. What kind of an organization do we want to be? How do we want to work together? How much do we trust and value each other? This is the important stuff and informs what might make sense around Scrum and... Continue reading »
Book – An Agile Adoption and Transformation Survival Guide: Working with Organizational Culture

Book – An Agile Adoption and Transformation Survival Guide: Working with Organizational Culture

I am very excited that I just published my free book – An Agile Adoption and Transformation Survival Guide: Working with Organizational Culture on InfoQ. Agile change agents will find it valuable in helping companies succeed with Agile and avoiding failure. About the Book Struggling with Agile? Frustrated that people don’t really get it? Tired of fighting with organizational bureaucracy? Wondering how you could have been more successful? If so, then this book is for you! The book provides a set of essential thinking tools for understanding Agile adoption and transformation: how they differ and what you need to know to know to avoid being another statistic in the widespread adoption failure. In particular, you will learn how to use culture to work more effectively with your organization. It is called a survival guide since so many people have found the concepts to be invaluable in understanding their experiences when working with Agile. This book includes: Identification of causes of the widespread Agile adoption failure A model for understanding Agile, Kanban, and Software Craftsmanship culture An outline of key adoption and transformation approaches A framework to help guide when to use these these approaches with your organization Real-life case studies of what has worked and what hasn’t Electronic Version is Free You can get a PDF or ePub version of the book for free on InfoQ. Why free? My primary goal is to change the world of work, and by making it free I can best achieve this goal. Of course, I would be really happy if you bought multiple copies of the print edition to give to your friends and... Continue reading »
Lean Startup? Use Kanban! Maybe Scrum

Lean Startup? Use Kanban! Maybe Scrum

Just finished Lean Startup Machine this past weekend and would like to connect the dots between Lean Startup and Agile. Lean Startup: How to Learn fast about Customers, their Problems and Solutions Lean Startup is a powerful approach for learning quickly about who your customer is and what problems they have and what solutions they value. The diagram below illustrates how it follows the scientific method: hypothesis, experiment, conclusions. As an entrepreneur or Product Manager, you keep running the cycle until you find out who your customers are (what market demographic), what their burning problem is and what solutions people will pay for. The whole point is to learn quickly to avoid building more products that no one really cares about. The biggest challenge with Lean Startup is not that the approach doesn’t work, but that we as human beings are so conditioned to think about products and systems that it is difficult to let go and just explore customers and their problems. Validated learning about customers is not optional. What about Agile? Steve Blank’s second commandment in his Manifesto for Customer Development is: “Pair Customer Development with Agile Development”. But how to make sense of this? Agile Pre-supposes Customers and Problems are known Agile is mindset and approach that supports building great teams and great products. It pre-supposes that there is someone who knows what needs to be built: In Extreme Programming this is the onsite Customer. In Scrum this is the Product Owner. So, it’s not about whether Lean Startup is better or worse than Agile, it is more a question of what kind of environment you... Continue reading »

What’s the first Decision? Implementing Kanban vs Scrum

Guest post by Michael DePaoli If your development team or manufacturing team is considering moving to using Kanban vs. Agile Scrum, one of the biggest decisions is choosing the right agile development methods for the job. Let’s discuss the realities of implementing Kanban and some of the fundamentals that hold back both Kanban and Scrum implementations. On paper, Kanban is certainly easier to kick-start from a change management perspective because you can leave current roles and processes largely intact; you just need to get commitment from the business to adhere to three basic principles: Provide a high degree of visibility/transparency of the state of all work queued and in progress Establish and respect WIP(work in progress) limits in the value flow Commit to execution in a ‘pull-based’ manner from the prioritized work queue Yeah, just get commitment and practice of these three things… Much easier said than done in my experience because they are frequently outside the circle of influence of those driving the change to implementing Kanban! Usually it isn’t that the agile software teams are unable to execute under Scrum; the fundamental issue is that the business isn’t willing to accept a “pull-based” execution model (required for Kanban and Scrum). Businesses continue to make irresponsible commitments to customers and investors. This only perpetuates crystal-ball thinking, fixed-date, fixed-scope and fixed-cost projects. It’s the classic sales-driven model we see all too often where the sales arm doesn’t respect the capability of its product development group to produce predictable value for the customer in a timely manner, and with an agreed-upon level of quality. After all, quality is a business decision. This irresponsible action ends up causing organizations to be unpredictable in their delivery, have... Continue reading »
Kanban is Like an Oreo Cookie

Kanban is Like an Oreo Cookie

Kanban is like an Oreo Cookie: Dark Crunchy Control on the outside, but Sweet White Goodness (collaboration, cultivation and craftsmanship) on the inside! Dark Crunchy Control In an earlier post, I wrote about how Kanban aligns with Control Culture and argued that for companies with Control Culture it will likely be a better approach than Scrum or XP. (Of course there are alternatives described in Ways to Make Progress with Culture Gaps.) Needless to say I got a lot of flak over this. No one in our community wants to be associated with Control Culture. Agile has been pushing so hard against this for so long that people have an emotional response akin to when a Jedi Knight goes over to the Dark Side of the Force. Nobody wants their baby called ugly. And linking to Control culture feels like just that. OREO COOKIE to the rescue! Yes, on the outside Kanban aligns with Control culture. It is made of dark, rigid, structured material. Looks like Control, tastes like control. Fits in with local culture and practices. Sweet White Goodness But wait! What’s this inside the cookie? The inside is a bright, soft, flexible material. Why this is all the Agile/Systems Thinking/Lean goodness! These cookies are not just crunchy, they can filled with collaboration, cultivation and craftsmanship. OMG, Kanban is a Gateway Drug to Agile. There are many documented cases of teams spontaneously collaborating, of learning, and of noticing problems and investing in technical practices. This has been my experience as well. There is nothing wrong with starting from control as long as we never loose sight of our mission of... Continue reading »
Agile Fits Better in Some Company Cultures than Others

Agile Fits Better in Some Company Cultures than Others

At XPDays Benelux last November, Pascal Van Cauwenberghe told me that his main focus is to stop companies from doing Agile. I didn’t get it then. I think I finally understand. (Note: Post used to be named “Problems with Agile? Check your Culture!”) Agile (and Kanban) from the perspective of Culture Rather than seeing Agile as universally great (aka silver bullet), I see it as a tool or philosophy that fits better in some company cultures than others. Consider the following diagram illustrating how Agile, Kanban, and Craftsmanship principles align with various cultures. If, for example, you are working with a competence culture, then a good starting place is to focus on software craftsmanship and help them get really good at building quality software. Similarly, Kanban for control cultures and Agile for collaboration and cultivation cultures. For this to make any sense, it would be advisable for you to check out the four related posts on culture: How to Make Your Culture Work (Schneider Model) Agile is about Collaboration and Cultivation Culture Kanban aligns with Control Culture Software Craftsmanship promotes Competence Culture (Seriously, go read them now. They are pretty short and have great diagrams). Rock my World For me this is pretty profound. Cultural analysis provides me a tool for understanding clients and helping them where they are right now. When a client contacts me as a coach, it is because they want help. What they think they need is a better process to help them with their problems. They do not want to change their company culture – they just want results. Well, depending on their company culture Agile... Continue reading »
Kanban aligns with Control Culture

Kanban aligns with Control Culture

In my last post, I looked at how Agile Culture is about Collaboration and Cultivation. Today, I am likely to ruffle a lot of feathers by observing that Kanban aligns well with control culture. So, if you are a consultant or coach, this is good news since Agile plays badly to companies that have a control culture. I view todays post as a refinement of my earlier post – Scrum or Kanban? Yes! – where I argued that some situations are a better fit for Kanban vs. Scrum. What is Kanban? I am choosing a recent and very insightful post by David Anderson – The Principles of the Kanban Method as the basis for my analysis. David is arguable the leader of the Kanban/Software school with his book, very active mailing list and Lean Software and Systems Consortium. Kanban is mostly aligned with Control Culture The cultural model used in the analysis below is based on the work of William Schneider. If you are not familiar with it, I suggest you check out my summary of his book. The terms I am using have a very precise meaning, so please refer to this for additional context. As you can see the main focus is about Control. Control cultures live and breathe policies and process. Kanban has this in spades. Control culture is also about creating a clear and orderly structure for managing the company which is exactly what Kanban is about. Control cultures focus on the company/system (vs. people) and current state (vs. future state). This is a good description for the starting place for Kanban. What is really interesting... Continue reading »
Home Run with Kanban 101 Workshop

Home Run with Kanban 101 Workshop

John Goodsen and I set out to deliver a great one day Kanban workshop as part of Agile Tour Toronto 2010 and we hit this one out of the park. What People had to Say about the Training “Engaging, Practical, Fundamental I liked the flow from concepts to games/practice; moved quickly; teamwork/collaborative learning.” – Alex Zeldin, Manager Planning and Business Solutions “Wicked, Awesome, Cool I liked the games and the Q&A session at the end.” – Trevor Ramoutar, Project Manager “Interactive, Informative, Practical A very lively workshop – you could feel the experience the trainers have! Thanks a lot.” – Hedi Buchner, ScrumMaster and coach. Recipe for Success Two coaches who have different experiences, points of view and are ready to experiment (See: Agile Coaches are like Superheroes) A strong desire to apply Training from the Back of the Room (See: Thought you were a good trainer? Guess Again!) A group of motivated learners How I trained from the back of the room and loved it If you are unfamiliar with this book, please check out my book review and mindmaps. Below are the exercises we use from the book. Most of what we used was from Connections and Conclusions. We played lot’s of games for concrete practice. We had limited use of slides (see bottom of page) to illustrate concepts. My overall take is that we covered less and did it with much higher quality. Introduction Connections – “PostIt/What’s in it for me?” (p.99) Hand draw poster with “What’s in it for me?” As people arrive, have them write WIIFM on PostIts with their Name. Connections – “Think then Ink”... Continue reading »
What’s better than Kanban?

What’s better than Kanban?

I was reading Freddy Balle’s book The Gold Mine: A Novel of Lean Turnaround and I read something that stopped me dead in my tracks. In the book, after months of transitioning a manufacturing plant to continuous flow using Kanban, the Lean sensei asks the innocent question: Question: What is better than Kanban? To answer this, one must think of the purpose of a Kanban card. In manufacturing, a Kanban card is a replenishment indicator for a particular part or assembly. In software, we use Kanban to represent a piece of work such as an MMF or user story. Either way, a Kanban card represents WIP (work in process). More Kanban cards means more WIP. What’s our goal? To increase throughput and reduce latency while minimizing operating expense. Reducing WIP is very helpful. Would be great if we could reduce our WIP as far as possible. How to do that? One-piece flow. So we reduce Kanban cards to zero. Answer: No Kanban! If there is no Kanban and you are very Lean, then you have single-piece flow. The holy grail of Lean process. This is what Arlo Belshee and Jim Shore attempted to explained in their LSSC10 session Enough Kanban! Use XP for Single-piece flow. (Please check it out if you haven’t seen it before.) I say attempted because I didn’t get it – I needed to read the above question and answer for the pin to drop. So what? If you are in an environment where you can do Scrum or XP, then go do so! If not, then Kanban is great place to start. Or finish – in the... Continue reading »
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