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Scrum vs. Kanban

April 23, 20242 min read

How Kanban is different from Scrum?

Please note: The correct pronunciation of Kanban is “kahn-bahn” not “can ban.”

Scrum is an Agile Framework which aligns to the Agile Manifesto’s 4 Values & 12 Principles. Agile approaches focus on customer collaboration through incremental delivery of value to the customer. The Scrum team constantly inspects what is being built and the process building it, and constantly adjusts and adapts its way forward with customer feedback at the center of what the Scrum team is building and how the team is building it. Kanban is an approach which can be traced back to lean manufacturing and the Toyota Production System (TPS). Lean manufacturing had its inception in in the 1940’s and 1950’s, and recently thought leaders have taken ideas from lean manufacturing and have tried to apply similar concepts to software development. For example, in lean manufacturing, one focus is on ways to eliminate waste. Similarly, we can apply the concept from manufacturing and eliminate waste in software.

Scrum Roles vs. Kanban Roles

In Scrum there are three roles—Scrum Master, Product Owner, and Development Team. In Kanban, there are no defined roles. If an organization wants to adopt Scrum, these three roles must be filled. In Kanban, the organization does not have any requirement to fill any specific roles. Many organizations struggle to implement Scrum because they do not have someone to be the dedicated Scrum Master. In an attempt to save money, management has a project manager or development lead “fill-in” for this Scrum Master role. While this could work perhaps 2% of the time, most likely it will backfire as it becomes a conflict of interest having this dual-role person exist. The Scrum Master role then becomes something that nobody wants to do, and shortcuts are taken that jeopardize the team’s ability to self organize.

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Brett Palmer

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