Leaning Scrum for the first time can be a bit overwhelming. There are so many new terms and concepts in Scrum, which can cause us not to feel confident about which word to use. As you learn about Scrum, you may be wondering:
How are Scrum and Agile related? Are they the same? What’s the difference?
These questions are about more than just terms. They frame how you approach teamwork, collaboration and getting work done. This article will cover three essential topics to help you.
Scrum isn’t the only expression of the Agile mindset. I’ll touch on a few others and include links if you want to learn more about them.
Kanban is a framework developed in the 1940s by Taichi Ohno while working at Toyota in Japan. He designed it to maintain their manufacturing inventory creating a just-in-time production.
The term Kanban (看板) translated is kan (看) meaning “to see” and ban (板) meaning a “board.” The core concept is that all the work is visible on the board, from the original supplier to the final consumer. A column represents each stage, and the work at that stage is listed in the column.
Someone can immediately see the current status of the whole process in a single glance, and you can quickly see where work is backlogged or delayed. This visibility was a massive jump in transparency, allowing the process and current status to be equally visible to everyone.
Work in progress (WIP) measures how much work is in a given stage. WIP limits can be set for each step to quickly identify a bottleneck and encourage work to be finished so it can continue to flow through the process.
Kanban can be a good option for introducing some agile principles to an organization because it doesn’t initially require many changes. You can use a Kanban board to map how things currently work, increasing transparency and creating a space for evaluation and inspection.
To begin using Kanban, you don’t need to change people’s roles or add new meetings like Scrum. This simplicity makes Kanban a more accessible entry point into Agile.
If you want to learn more about Kanban, Digite has an excellent comprehensive article you can check out. Here are two books to get you started.
They’re both a little older, but the concepts are still solid.
Lean is a methodology that also finds its origins in manufacturing, specifically Toyota and Motorola. As the name Lean suggests, Lean looks to reduce waste, making the process lighter and thus more agile. Lean recognizes three kinds of waste to reduce:
Lean focuses on efficiency balanced with its five principles, which guide how to deliver value to the customer. PMI has a good article on how to apply Lean concepts to project management
The Lean Startup is also an excellent resource for learning how you can apply lean concepts.
Nexus is a framework for being Agile at scale. Ken Schwaber of scrum.org developed it to guide organizations that are running Scrum on multiple teams across a shared backlog. It’s a relatively new framework, beginning in 2015.
The Nexus is where these teams come together. The framework defines new roles and events to help the teams coordinate better with one another. Cross-team dependencies are one of the most common challenges of Scrum at scale.
The Nexus framework encourages interactions to help manage those dependencies. At the same time, it maintains some of the core aspects of Scrum, like self-organizing teams, transparency, inspection, and adaptation.
You can find more resources on scrum.org.
Dean Leffingwell created Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe). Like the Nexus framework, it supports scaling agile beyond a single team. Unlike Nexus, it is not explicitly focused on Scrum but more broadly encompasses the Agile principles.
SAFe also scales more extensively than Nexus, bringing Agile principles to program and portfolio management. It seeks to reconcile the shorter iterative nature of Agile with the scale and timeline of a large organization.
If you want to learn more about SAFe, ScaledAgile has some good resources and offers trainings and certifications.
Leaning Scrum for the first time can be a bit overwhelming. There are many new terms and concepts in Scrum.
Well we’re here to help.