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Scrum and Kanban stronger together

May 10, 2017

What is your reaction to reading this post’s headline? Do you feel a sense of affirmation because you believe that Scrum and Kanban are compatible? Or do you feel irritated because you fall firmly in either the Scrum or Kanban camp and believe one approach outperforms the other?

I believe that exploring how Scrum and Kanban can complement each other is long overdue. I base this opinion on my experience as a former Accredited Kanban Trainer and Coaching Professional and my current role as a Professional Scrum Trainer and team member. My take is that because Kanban and Scrum practitioners have broken into separate camps, software teams are missing out on practices that would improve their effectiveness.

I’m not alone. Daniel Vacanti makes the same argument. Daniel was on the team that developed the Kanban method, and he was the first manager to apply Kanban within the context of a real-life project. Today, he is the CEO and co-founder of ActionableAgile and author of Actionable Agile Metrics for Predictability. He wants to see greater collaboration between our two communities as well.

Many of us whose role it is to promote Scrum and Kanban have improved our understanding of each approach and recognize that the two have more similarities than differences. Daniel and I agree that rather than wasting energy defending our separate camps, there’s greater value to gain from working together on our shared goal of helping organizations deliver outstanding value to their customers.

Why this is the time to foster a new Scrum-Kanban Relationship

Scrum recently celebrated its 21st birthday, which in many cultures is the age of adulthood. It’s a significant milestone that is often an occasion for reflection. Scrum has achieved a lot over the past two decades. Ninety percent of teams that use Agile use Scrum with a total of 12-15 million practitioners. What will sustain Scrum’s relevance in the decades to come is our commitment to the Scrum values, which were recently added to the Scrum Guide. One of these values is openness. When we are aware of other effective Agile practices that are complementary to Scrum, we should embrace them. It’s time to recognize the strengths inherent in the practices of Kanban and to explore how our two approaches can connect to produce better outcomes.

From Daniel’s perspective, he is experiencing a renewed spirit of inclusion and collaboration born from a movement within the Kanban community to return to its roots. “For many reasons, the Kanban community has strayed from its founding principles of inclusion, learning, and collaboration,” he explains. “During the process of exploring how we need to regroup, the Kanban community is looking at what makes other communities successful. This has led to a realization that we have much more in common with other groups than we had previously acknowledged.”


Making the Case

Daniel and I are going to explore how together our two approaches can achieve better results. To kick off that exploration, we’re going to start with a blog post series that will cover the basics of Scrum and Kanban and tackle how the various practices can enhance each approach.

We invite you to contribute your thoughts and suggestions. If there are points you would like us to cover or questions you’d like us to answer, let us know in the comments, and we’ll make sure to address them.


Update: First post in the series is now live.


Here are some of the topics we plan to explore:

All I Really Need to Know I Learned In … (Part I)


All I Really Need to Know I Learned In … (Part II)


Diet of Worms: What Scrum Gets Wrong about Kanban and What Kanban Gets Wrong About Scrum

  • Dogma and negative rivalry have interfered with real learning. We will dispel the myths on both sides.


ScrumBan or KanScrum? It’s Neither: How the Two Really Should Work Together

  • The two set of practices are not mutually exclusive. We’ll examine how they’re complementary.


Hobson’s Choice: Scrum or Kanban?

  • Must you choose one or the other? Should anyone ever have to make that type of decision?




Actionable Agile Metrics for Predictability

An Introduction to Kanban for Scrum Teams


If you’re in the Boston area, is hosting two workshops that will give you hands-on experience using Kanban principles with Scrum.

Seats are limited for this June 22nd event so register today.

Hope to see you there!

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