Saturday, May 7, 2011

Why developers love Scrum and Management prefers Kanban, Part I

Why developers love Scrum and Managers Kanban

Just to clean this out: This is not a discussion of kind 'what is the better tool: Scrum or Kanban'. This post is about misunderstanding or even abuse of concepts and terms. This post is about organizations changing from traditional toward agility and lean.
Let's have a look into enterprises. My observations are that Scrum has the better reputation at developers then on management level. IT-professionals talk about retrospective, emerging architecture, story points, daily stand-ups and such like. Kanban once again is more often requested and discussed by managers. They talk about bottlenecks and resources.

I often get emails like this: "hey, can you run a CSM class for the X-team" by a team lead or a request by a manager "I would like to run a Kanban workshop with my colleagues from management".
So I started to asked myself why?! Why do developers love Scrum and Managers Kanban?!

To answer this question the motivation and drivers of people have to be taken into account.
Drivers of developers are to deliver high quality results, to improve their skills, the working environment and tooling. Feedback, collaboration with peers and education are important aspects to succeed. Scrum supports exactly this. Feedback and collaboration is built into Scrum by default. Additionally Scrum uncovers missing skills in the team thus resulting in requests for training. That's why developers trend towards Scrum. There are downsides of Scrum as well. Developers tend to misinterpret Scrum like this: No documentation anymore, managers are expandable, any regulations or standards of the organization can be neglected. Yes there are some of these exemplars of developers out there, I met some personally. No wonder managers get panic.

Now, let's have a look at managers. Their drivers are either to optimize their field of responsibility - these are the lucky ones - or to outreach the goals set by their boss. Essential tasks at least for the goal driven managers therefore are to keep resources on the least needed level to reach the goals, identify bottlenecks on the way to go and collecting arguments why in case of failing this had been unavoidable, because the reasons of the failure are under somebodies else responsibility. Kanban supports at least some of these tasks, i.e. identifying the bottlenecks. The downsides of Kanban are that a certain type of manager stops Kanbann thinking right when the bottlenecks are known and classical thinking starts again.

What really should concern us when striving for agility and lean management, is that there are many hidden misinterpretations or sometimes intentional abuse of Scrum and Kanban principles out there. I will discuss some that I collected within the last years when helping clients towards more agility and lean thinking in upcoming posts.

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