100. Scrum vs Kanban – Two Agile Teams Go Head-to-Head + FREE CHEAT SHEET // Download your FREE CHEAT SHEET:
This is a story of Two Agile Teams. More correctly, it’s the tale of one Agile Team that split into two Agile Teams.
What makes the story interesting is that it was more than just an organisational separation. It was an Agile separation:
– One team continued as before – with *Scrum*
– The other team dropped Scrum in favour of *Kanban*
Will it all end in tears?
This is a Tale of Two Agile Teams. More correctly, it’s the tale of one Agile Team that split into two Agile Teams. It was more than an organisational separation. It was an Agile separation. Act One It was 2012 when I first walked into the offices of the BBC. The same time and the building as these guys… Never saw them. Which is strange. The software team I joined was one, I was told, that ‘did Agile’. At the time, I knew very little about ‘Agile’. But I could see from the get go that they weren’t doing it by halves. There’d clearly been lots of training. They had all kinds of tools. They were doing all kinds of ‘rituals’. We’ll get into the specifics of how the team worked in a minute. The Split —– Fast forward a year and the department reorganised. My team was split in two. Although reporting lines changed, the seating plan didn’t. There was one outward indication of change: where there had been one agile board, there were now two. Oh, and we did two stand-ups every day: ours at 10:00am, theirs at 10:15. A New Flavour ——- Ever-observant, it took me a couple of weeks to notice that the other team was doing a different ‘flavour’ of Agile. I hadn’t realised that there was more than one flavour of Agile! What my team was doing was, called Scrum. The other team was doing something called Kanban. Kanban Really This was a word I knew from way back. But I knew it in the context of manufacturing. I couldn’t immediately see how it applied to the process used by my (former) teammates. So I went to talk to the Lead Developer of ‘Team Kanban’. ‘What the difference between Scrum and Kanban ‘ I asked He was ready with an immediate answer: ‘You Guys Talk About Work. We Do Work.’ Ouch! in that moment, I learned an important lesson about Agile: it can be an emotive issue. Beliefs can be deep-seated. The Team Kanban Lead Dev clearly thought that Kanban was better than Scrum. I held… the opposite view. My view was both strongly held… and completely without evidential foundation. Natural Experiment —- I’m a little older now. And, I hope, a little wiser. I can now see that the team split was a perfect Natural Experiment. You know the kind of thing: “Take two identical twins. Separate them at birth. Feed one Scrum. Feed the other Kanban. Observe the result.” So I hope you’ll join me on a little forensic investigation, starting with a 20,000 view of each team’s processes. Team Scrum —– My team – let’s call it “Team Scrum” – worked in two-week Sprints. At the beginning of s Sprint, we’d take ourselves off to a quiet part of the building for a Sprint Planning session. The Product Owner would select items from the backlog, and we’d play “Planning Poker” to estimate the size each item. We’d continue until we had roughly one “Sprint’s worth” of cards. Sprint Planning over, each developer would pick up a card and set to work Every morning there’d be a Stand-up – aka a Daily Scrum – 10 am on the dot. And so it would go on day after day, with the cards gradually making their way across the board. By the about the Tuesday of the second week, we’d expect all of the cards to have moved at least one step. It was then a race – a “sprint” – to get everything tested and ready for release on Friday. We didn’t always succeed in getting everything across the board: any item that failed to make it would be “recycled” into the next Sprint. On the Friday morning, everything in the release column would be packaged for release. Oh, and one last thing to round out the Sprint: a Retrospective: a chance for the team to get together to reflect on what well, to discuss what could be improved, and to commit to one or two action items for the following Sprint. Taking stock of the evidence: There’s a Product Backlog, the Agile Board, and a Done Pile. There’s a two-week Sprint with a Sprint Planning session at the beginning. Each day after that, a Daily Scrum Meeting – aka a Daily Stand-up. At the end of the process, all those cards that have made it to the final column are packaged for release. And on the afternoon of the last day of the Sprint, a Retrospective. Team Kanban ———- Moving on to the other team: “Team Kanban”. As with Team Scrum, there’s a Ba