Kanban is a much better process once the system has reached a steady state and the focus becomes process improvement, maturity and improved cycle times.
Scrum is an outstanding process to adopt when you want a radical departure from the past or if you’re a start up. Scrum is disruptive and pretty heavy by its nature but results in huge productivity increases in the short-term. But if you’re a mature company with an existing revenue stream from products you’re better off starting where you’re at and making conscious, gradual and continuous process improvements using Kanban. I believe this approach is both more affective as well as politically prudent.
As in every craft, it’s important to use the best tool for the job. In my opinion, Scrum is being used in many situations where Kanban is a more appropriate fit. As an agile coach it’s my job to steer my clients towards the most suitable processes for them. I think over the next year, we’ll be seeing many Scrum shops migrate towards Kanban as their products, processes and teams mature.
I’ve been saying this for a long time: as Agile teams mature, their processes stabilise and the rate of change moves from radically disruptive requiring unique craft build to mass customisation, they will tend towards Lean methods.
For Scrum teams, Kanban is an easy fit as that maturing progresses — from one PoV it’s just a continuous iteration with some business rules around WiP. The challenge is whether this progresses beyond surface adoption to understanding the Lean mindset, otherwise you’re risking Cargo Cultism.
The most effective Agile teams should do fine, as they’ve got the retrospective-and-improve approach in their DNA. The rest: I’m not so sure. I think we’ll see a lot of talk about Kanban in the next 3 years, but only limited Leanness.
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