In my filter bubble there is this trend of teams switching to Kanban after they’ve used Scrum for a while. Typically they had been successful with Scrum and switched to Kanban, when they felt they’d taken Scrum as far as possible. After the switch they do even better.
I’ve never heard of a team switching in the opposite direction – from Kanban to Scrum – yet. That might be due to the fact that Kanban (for software development) is a decade younger than Scrum, but I don’t think that’s it.
Lately I’ve been wondering whether Scrum is a Shu-stage of agile development:
“Shu: In this beginning stage the student follows the teachings of one master precisely. He concentrates on how to do the task, without worrying too much about the underlying theory.”
With Scrumban and Kanban signalling a step in evolution for a team; the HaRi-stages:
“Ha: At this point the student begins to branch out. With the basic practices working he now starts to learn the underlying principles and theory behind the technique. He also starts learning from other masters and integrates that learning into his practice.
Ri: Now the student isn’t learning from other people, but from his own practice. He creates his own approaches and adapts what he’s learned to his own particular circumstances.”
Let me elaborate on that:
Hypothesis 1: A flow-based process (as in Kanban) is more “natural” than Scrum’s iterations
One of the main complaints of Scrum teams is the fitting of stories into sprints. That if you want to make sure to finish everything, you’ll have idle time at the end. In immature teams you often want that “idle” time, because there are useful activities to fill this time that the team isn’t used to yet (e.g. testing, documenting, preparing the demo, …). But the complaint resurfaces in mature teams and seems to be the major driver behind the switch to Kanban. Afterwards the (sub-)teams just work on and finish a story in however long it takes, then pull the next.
Also, a step towards less rules (without falling into chaos) strikes me as more “agile-y”.*
Hypothesis 2: Scrum teaches many best practices (that teams keep after the transition)
Scrum prescribes many good practices that will benefit a team regardless of the process it’s following, such as: daily meetings to co-ordinate, splitting tasks, discussing tasks before and after implementation, agreeing on what “Done” means, and many more. Continue reading