May 7, 2024

Agile isn't just Scrum

Agile and agility encompass more than just Scrum or Kanban. We want to emphasize that Agile methodologies and mindset are equally crucial. Today, we'd like to discuss what Agile involves and introduce a few alternatives to Kanban or Scrum. We'll explore the potential of other frameworks to enhance your project.

Before we jump into that, let's ask a fundamental question: Do you understand what Agile is?

Agility is a mindset, it includes a set of beliefs and attitudes that influence how you interpret the world, make decisions, and perceive yourself. How does this translate into your day-to-day practices in your work and projects?

Being Agile means responding swiftly to situations or scenarios. It's about having the capacity to adapt and pivot at the right moment to align with a changing environment. Does this mean you have to compromise quality? No, not at all! It’s also a part of being Agile. It involves a continuous pursuit to improve the final product and add value. As the first agile principle mentions, the primary focus of agility is customer satisfaction and optimizing the utilization of available resources.

Agile Principles? What are they, you ask? There are 12 Agile principles that form the baseline of everything Agile. You can find them, along with the Agile manifesto, here.

Now that you have an understanding of what it means to be Agile or to adopt an Agile mindset, let's dive into a few different frameworks that fall under the umbrella of "Agile methodologies."

  • Scrum, Kanban, and Scrumban
    • Scrum is a lightweight framework that helps people, teams and organizations generate value through adaptive solutions for complex problems.
    • The Kanban method is a means to design, manage, and improve flow systems for knowledge work. It gets its name from using kanban – visual signaling mechanisms to control work in progress for intangible work products.
    • Scrumban is an Agile-aligned approach to product delivery, a hybrid of Scrum and Kanban. This mixed methodology manifests itself in different ways. Still, the most common trends among scrumban teams involve using sprints with a backlog from Scrum, and WIP limits and cycle time from Kanban.
  • SAFe (Scaled Agile Framework)
    • The Scaled Agile Framework® (SAFe®) is a set of organizing and workflow patterns for implementing agile practices at enterprise scale. It was formed around three primary bodies of knowledge: agile software development, lean product development, and systems thinking. SAFe promotes alignment, collaboration, and delivery across a large number of agile teams.
  • LeSS
    • Large-Scale Scrum (LeSS) is a regular scrum applied to large-scale development. LeSS is based on the idea that scaling frameworks should be minimalistic (i.e. include less rules, roles, and artifacts) to drive success. However, both LeSS and SAFe share some common patterns: Scrum at the team level, many teams sharing a backlog, collaborative planning across multiple teams, along with the general principles of pull and self-organization that any smaller agile team may be familiar with.
  • Scrum @ Scale
    • Scrum@Scale is an extension of the scrum framework. It’s generally adopted by organizations that have already implemented scrum successfully at the team level and are looking to spread it throughout the organization. The main goal is to align growing organizations around one common and shared set of goals. Coordination is managed through a Scrum of Scrums, which is comprised of Scrum Masters from each team, and a MetaScrum made up of product owners.
  • Nexus
    • Nexus is a simple framework that implements Scrum at scale across multiple teams to deliver a single integrated product. It can be applied to 3–9 Scrum teams working in a common development environment and focused on producing a combined increment every sprint with minimal dependencies.
  • XP (eXtreme Programming)
    • Extreme Programming (XP) is an agile software development framework that aims to produce higher-quality software and a higher quality of life for the development team. XP is the most specific of the agile frameworks regarding appropriate engineering practices for software development.
  • Crystal Method
    • The Crystal Method is a family of Agile methodologies that prioritize individuals and interactions over processes and tools. These methodologies aim to find a balance that suits the unique characteristics of a project, rather than imposing a one-size-fits-all approach.
  • Lean Software Development
    • Lean Software Development is an Agile methodology that draws its inspiration from lean manufacturing principles, particularly those pioneered by Toyota in the 1950s. It focuses on delivering value to customers while minimizing waste in the development process. Lean Software Development encourages a holistic view of the development process, focusing on value delivery, efficiency, and continuous improvement. By applying these principles, teams aim to create high-quality software that meets customer needs as efficiently and effectively as possible.

So, what do we gain from Agility and these frameworks? There are countless benefits, and each team may find different approaches advantageous. However, a few key points to highlight are:

Flexibility: Agile provides the capacity to adapt to any unforeseen changes that may arise along the way.

Continuous testing: Agile places significant emphasis on ongoing testing, leading to continual product improvement. This ensures that the product released to the market has fewer defects and is market-ready.

Fast Identification of Errors and Risks: Agile helps identify errors and associated risks swiftly, reducing the likelihood of encountering major setbacks in the later stages of the project.

In conclusion, Agile is a vast landscape that goes beyond the domains of Scrum and Kanban. It encloses a mindset that encourages adaptability, customer satisfaction, and optimized resource utilization. As we've explored various Agile frameworks, from Scrum to SAFe, LeSS, and beyond, it's evident that each offers unique approaches to enhancing project outcomes. The key lies in selecting the framework that aligns best with your team's and project’s specific needs and objectives.

Embracing Agility means embracing flexibility, continuous testing, and quick error detection. These principles, embedded within Agile methodologies, empower teams to navigate complexities, deliver high-quality products, and thrive in an ever-evolving landscape. Remember, Agile is not a one-size-fits-all solution, but rather a toolkit to apply to your project's requirements.

So, whether you're already immersed in Agile practices or just beginning your journey, remember to adopt the mindset, experiment with different methodologies, and, find what works best for your team. Where are you at on your Agile journey?