Scrum and Kanban is like Stencil and Color - AgileFever

I often came across a question of Kanban vs. Scrum, which is better than others, or lots of questions similar to this. There is already a lot of literature available to answer questions similar to these. Here we will explore metaphorically, which helps us create a mental image without going into each’s technical details.

Let’s have a little introduction of both before introducing metaphors. Scrum is a lightweight framework to solve complex problems. It is a purposefully incomplete framework. What does it mean by purposefully incomplete? Scrum provides a structure but doesn’t provide the detail. For example, Scrum defines ordering product backlog, backlog refinement, sprint retrospective for the scrum teams; however, it doesn’t explain how to do it. We need complementary practices to fill the gap suitable for the context. Besides, it is explicitly mentioned in the Scrum Guide that if we implement only part of Scrum, the result is not Scrum. In other words, we can add the complementary practices to the Scrum, as long as it is not violating the Scrum values, rules, and principles but can not take anything out from the framework.

Kanban is a set of practices, methods, processes, and strategies to optimize the flow of the “value.” It is not required to use any framework; however, it doesn’t mean that it can not be used with any framework. It is not about using Scrum vs. Kanban or replace one with another lots of teams are taking advantage of using both simultaneously.

The best metaphor I can think of for Scrum is Stencil. Like Scrum, Stencil provides a structure, and if we take anything out of it, i.e., it doesn’t complete, then the result will not be complete. Similarly, we have to use complementary practices with Scrum, and without complementary practices, the Scrum framework is not very useful; only Stencil alone is not very useful. We can use whatever color, shade, paint, tint, pigment, or texture is suitable for the context with Stencil to get the required result. It is important to remember that although these can be used with Stencil, but is not a part of it. We can use more than one color, texture, or shade, if necessary.

Similarly, lots of teams are using complementary practices with Scrum, such as “User Story,” “Story Point,” “Pair Programming,” “test-driven development,” “journey mapping,” etc.; none of this is a part of the Scrum framework, but can be very useful depends on the context.

The best metaphor I like to use for Kanban is “colors.” Colors are used to create aesthetically beautiful artwork like practices, methods, processes, and strategies to optimize the flow of the “value.” These colors can be used with or without any stencil, just like Kanban can be used with or without any framework such as Scrum. If we use these colors with Stencil, then we have to follow the structure of the Stencil. Similarly, if we use Kanban with any framework such as Scrum, we also have to follow the Scrum rules. When we use colors with Stencil, then we take advantage of both.


You may also be interested in: