The Scrumban [R]Evolution

What is Scrumban? Evolved Scrum? Applied Kanban? A combination of both? I needed to find out, therefore I read the book ”The Scrumban [R]Evolution” by Ajay Reddy. The subtitle is ”Getting the Most Out of Agile, Scrum, and Lean Kanban”. The book has 384 pages and was released in 2105.

”Scrumban”

Content

The book consist of 10 chapters divided into four parts. The chapters are:

  1. Manifestations: Scrumban Demystified
  2. The Matrix and the Mess: Where It All Begins
  3. The Mission: Clarifying the Relationship between Purpose, Values, and Performance
  4. Motivations: Why Scrumban Works
  5. Mobilize: Rolling Out Scrumban
  6. Method: Working under the Hood
  7. Measurements: Gaining Insights and Tracking Progress
  8. Management: Management Is Doing Things Right – Leadership Is Doing the Right Things
  9. Maturing: Like a Fine Vine, Scrumban Can Get Better with Age
  10. Modeling: To Baldly Go Where Few Have Gone Before

I will try to start with answering the first question, ”What is Scrumban?”. Corey Ladas introduced Scrumban in his book from 2008. He defined Scrumban as a transition method for moving software development teams from Scrum to a more evolved development framework. Some of Corey’s work is covered in the beginning of chapter 4 in this book, ”The Scrumban [R]Evolution”.

In the first chapter Ajay Reddy introduces Shu-Ha-Ri to understand Scrumban. It stands for:

  • Shu (Beginner) – The first stage of learning. The student seek to reproduce result by following a set of instructions.
  • Ha (Intermediate) – The student understand and live by basic practices, values and principles.  
  • Ri (Advanced) – The student has become a master.

I’ve also seen it explained something like this: Shu (”learn the rules”), Ha (”live by the rules”), Ri (”break the rules”).

Scrum has the following values: Focus, Courage, Openness, Commitment & Respect. Kanban the following: Understanding, Agreement, Respect, Leadership, Flow, Transparency, Balance, Collaboration & Customer Focus. Scrumban, as an independent framework, brings three additional values:

  • Empiricism – Empirical approaches are always favored over theories.
  • Humility – We must always be ready to challenge our understanding.
  • Constructive interaction – Constructive debate that improves understanding over blind acceptance.

When Scrumban core practices are mastered, other frameworks and models can be ”woven in” like:

  • A3 thinking
  • The Cynefin Framework
  • Real Options

Basically the whole book goes on like this. By referring and briefly describing everything that has been ”a hot topic” in the agile world during the later years. Delicate pieces, but small, like a smorgasbord. You want some more examples? Here are three of them.

Jason Yip has summarized patterns for a good stand-up (remembered as GIFTS):

  • Good start
  • Improvement
  • Focus
  • Team
  • Status

Bill Wake’s INVEST for work breakdown:

  • Independent
  • Negotiable
  • Valuable
  • Estimable
  • Small
  • Testable

Characteristics central to the role of a servant leader:

  1. Listening
  2. Empathy
  3. Self-awareness
  4. Responsibility
  5. Persuasion
  6. Conceptualization
  7. Foresight
  8. Coaching/mentoring
  9. Systems thinking
  10. Empirical decision making

Any many, many more. So how do you get started with Scrumban? That is covered in chapter 5 but an appendix holds a quick reference guide:

  • Step 1: Visualize your system
  • Step 2: Start Measuring Performance
  • Step 3: Stabilize Your System and Improve Focus with WIP Limits
  • Step 4: Improve Your Understanding and Management of Risk
  • Step 5: Continuously Improve

Recommendation

This book has good structure, well written texts and a lot of illustrating figures. However, I think the overall purpose, to explain Scrumban, gets lost when describing all the surrounding agile practices. Keeping it simple is a virtue.

All the best,
 Tomas from TheAgileist

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