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Scrum vs Kanban – Which one shall we adopt?

How it all started?

Before we get into details of Scrum vs Kanban, we will take a top-down approach, first thing to understand is What is Agile? and Agile Manifesto .  This will give you a view of the agile revolution, Scrum and Kanban are part of this structure.

The Agile Manifesto, which has 4 values and 12 principles, is supported by frameworks; two famous frameworks are Scrum and Kanban.

Scrum vs Kanban – What are these frameworks all about?

The next part is to understand these frameworks before we decide which one to adopt over the other.

What is Scrum?

What is Kanban?

Difference between Scrum vs Kanban  

CriteriaScrumKanban
InceptionSoftware Development (A Framework created for software development)Originated from Lean Manufacturing
ApproachEach element of the scrum framework serves a specific purpose that is essential to the overall value and results realized with Scrum. This has to be followed.Less prescriptive as compared to Scrum, 3 Kanban practices are must
AccountabilitiesScrum defines three specific accountabilities within the Scrum Team: the Developers, the Product Owner, and the Scrum MasterDoes not have defined accountabilities
Iterative approachFollows Iterative approachDoes not follow iterative approach
CadenceSprints have fixed length events of one month or lessContinuous flow
PlanningScrum events for planning are Sprint Planning, Daily ScrumNo defined cadence for planning however team can decide based on context

Conclusion – Scrum vs Kanban

There is no prescribed answer to use Scrum or Kanban. It all boils down to one aspect and that is context. Try one framework for a certain period and inspect and adapt and track the progress, move it to the next if you don’t see progress. Either Scrum or Kanban, continuous improvement is the key.

Who is an Agile Scrum Master?

The Agile Scrum Master functions as a facilitator, coach, and servant-leader, embodying the fundamental principles of Agile methodology. Unlike traditional project managers, who often adopt a command-and-control approach, the Scrum Master acts as a catalyst for collaboration and continuous improvement, being a servant leader. At its essence, the Scrum Master ensures adherence to the Scrum framework, enabling teams to iteratively deliver high-quality products.

Key accountabilities of an Agile Scrum Master:

Facilitating Scrum Events: From sprint planning to daily stand-ups, sprint reviews, and retrospectives, the Scrum Master orchestrates vital Agile ceremonies, fostering transparency and alignment among team members.

Removing Impediments: The Agile Scrum Master coaches the team and team members, identifying and eliminating obstacles that impede progress, empowering teams to concentrate on delivering value.

Coaching and Mentoring: Guiding team members in embracing Agile practices and principles, the Scrum Master cultivates a culture of self-organization and accountability, nurturing both individual and collective growth.

Shielding the Team: Serving as a buffer against external distractions and disruptions, the Scrum Master safeguards team productivity and fosters a conducive work environment.

Promoting Continuous Improvement: Through regular retrospectives and feedback loops, the Scrum Master instills a culture of introspection and adaptability, driving iterative enhancements and process optimization.

Essential Skills of an Agile Scrum Master:

Effective Communication: Clear and empathetic communication is vital for the Scrum Master to convey ideas, facilitate discussions, and proficiently resolve conflicts.

Servant Leadership: Embracing a servant-leader mindset, the Scrum Master prioritizes the team’s needs, empowering individuals to take ownership and collaborate towards shared objectives.

Problem-Solving Aptitude: Proficiency in identifying, analyzing, and resolving issues allows the Scrum Master to maintain momentum and minimize disruptions throughout the project lifecycle.

Adaptability: In a landscape characterized by ambiguity and change, adaptability is crucial for navigating unforeseen challenges and steering the team towards success.

Facilitation Skills: Mastering the art of facilitating meetings and workshops fosters engagement, collaboration, and consensus-building, driving collective decision-making and alignment.

The Value of an Agile Scrum Master: In the pursuit of organizational agility and product excellence, the Agile Scrum Master serves as a linchpin, catalyzing innovation, fostering collaboration, and enabling continuous delivery. By championing Agile principles and practices, the Scrum Master empowers teams to embrace change, navigate complexity, and thrive in dynamic environments.

Conclusion:

As organizations embrace Agile methodologies, the role of the Scrum Master emerges as a cornerstone of success, bridging the gap between vision and execution. Through adept facilitation, steadfast support, and an unwavering commitment to excellence, the Agile Scrum Master propels teams towards their objectives, ensuring that adaptability and value creation remain paramount in every endeavor.

All about – SAFe Scrum Master

SAFe is one of the frameworks which has gained ample popularity. At the core of SAFe lies the SAFe Scrum Master, entrusted with steering the Agile transformation journey.

Understanding the SAFe Scrum Master

The SAFe Scrum Master isn’t confined to one team like a traditional Scrum Master. They operate at the program level in SAFe, facilitating Agile practices across multiple teams and ensuring alignment with organizational goals. Their primary aim is to foster collaboration, transparency, and continuous improvement within the Agile Release Train (ART)—a collective of Agile teams working toward shared objectives.

Key Responsibilities of a SAFe Scrum Master

Facilitating SAFe Events: SAFe Scrum Masters play a crucial role in organizing various SAFe ceremonies like Program Increment (PI) Planning, Scrum of Scrums, and Inspect and Adapt (I&A) workshops. Their goal is to ensure these events run smoothly, promoting collaboration and communication across teams.

Removing Impediments: Just like traditional Scrum Masters, SAFe Scrum Masters act as servant-leaders, eliminating obstacles that hinder team productivity. They address not only individual team issues but also systemic challenges and dependencies within the entire ART.

Coaching and Mentoring: SAFe Scrum Masters serve as coaches, guiding teams in implementing Agile principles effectively. They empower teams to self-organize and improve their processes while adhering to SAFe guidelines.

Promoting Continuous Improvement: Continuous improvement is fundamental in Agile. SAFe Scrum Masters drive this culture by facilitating retrospectives and encouraging innovation, creating an environment where teams can learn and grow.

Ensuring Alignment: SAFe emphasizes alignment between team activities and business objectives. SAFe Scrum Masters ensure that every team’s efforts contribute to the overarching goals of the enterprise.

Skills and Competencies of a SAFe Scrum Master

Strong Facilitation Skills: SAFe Scrum Masters excel in facilitating SAFe events, managing large groups, and driving consensus toward actionable outcomes.

Excellent Communication: Effective communication is vital for conveying complex concepts and fostering transparency within the ART, both vertically with leadership and horizontally across teams.

Adaptability and Resilience: SAFe environments are dynamic, requiring SAFe Scrum Masters to navigate uncertainty and pivot strategies to keep the Agile transformation on track.

Servant Leadership: SAFe Scrum Masters prioritize the needs of the team and the organization, serving as catalysts for growth and enabling teams to reach their full potential.

SAFe Expertise: A deep understanding of the Scaled Agile Framework is crucial for implementing SAFe practices and driving continuous improvement within the ART.

Conclusion:

The role of the SAFe Scrum Master is pivotal in bridging Agile principles with enterprise realities. By embodying servant leadership, fostering collaboration, and driving continuous improvement, SAFe Scrum Masters shape high-performing Agile Release Trains that consistently deliver value.

Does Kanban have a Kanban Scrum Master?

Have you come across this word – Kanban Scrum Master?  The question arises who is accountable as a scrum master in Kanban or an equivalent role?

Before we get into the answer, go through this information –

Accountability of a Scrum Master

Kanban on a page

Is there a Kanban Scrum Master?

Refer to this line in this article (Kanban on a page) – Those who participate in the value delivery of a Kanban system are called Kanban system members. There are no roles defined by Kanban, hence there is no such role called Kanban Scrum Master. However, there are teams following Kanban that have roles like Flow Master (this is not prescribed anywhere and varies from context to context and also as per the team’s convenience). A Flow Master is a person who facilitates the daily stand-up (Again Kanban does not prescribe a daily stand-up however teams have a daily stand-up to discuss work impediments and progress).

If it is an interview question, the answer is simple – There is no Kanban Scrum Master however there can be a Flow Master based on the team dynamics and context.

From Coffee Shops to Computing: Little’s Law’ is applicable universally

In the world of managing queues and waiting lines, there exists a simple yet powerful concept known as Little’s Law. This law, named after the brilliant John D.C. Little, provides insights into the relationship between the number of items in a system, the rate at which items enter or leave the system, and the time spent in the system. Let’s embark on a journey to unravel this intriguing concept in plain, everyday language.

Understanding Little’s Law

At its core, Little’s Law can be expressed as:

N=λ×W

Here’s what these symbols mean:

  • N: The average number of items in the system.
  • λ: The average rate at which items enter or leave the system.
  • W: The average time an item spends in the system.

In simpler terms, Little’s Law helps us understand how the number of things in a system relates to how fast they come in or leave and how long they stick around.

Examples to explain Little’s Law

Example 1: Grocery Store Checkout

Imagine you’re at a grocery store, and there are, on average, 10 people in line (N). The cashier is scanning items at a rate of 5 customers per minute (λ), and each person spends an average of 2 minutes at the checkout (W).

Using Little’s Law:

10=5×2

In this scenario, the law holds true, indicating a balanced system.

Example 2: Online Customer Support

Now, consider an online customer support system. On average, there are 50 inquiries (N) coming in per hour, the support team addresses issues at a rate of 10 inquiries per hour (λ), and each inquiry takes about 3 hours to resolve (W).

Applying Little’s Law:

50=10×3

This suggests that the system is maintaining equilibrium.

Here is the catch, for Little’s law to work it should meet these five assumptions

  • The average departure rate must equal average arrival rate
  • All items that enter the system must finish and exit the system
  • The amount of average number of items in the system is roughly the same at the beginning and
    end of the time interval under observation
  • The average age of number of items in the system is neither growing nor declining
  • Consistent units are used for the measurement of N, λ and W.

Real-world Insight

Little’s Law provides a handy tool for businesses to optimize their processes. By understanding the delicate balance between arrivals, departures, and time spent, organizations can enhance efficiency, reduce waiting times, and ultimately improve customer satisfaction.

In essence, Little’s Law demystifies the dynamics of queues, offering a straightforward formula that holds true across various scenarios. Whether you’re waiting in line at the bank or managing workflows in a business, the principles of Little’s Law can illuminate the path to smoother, more efficient systems.