We asked our Agile Coaches:
"We have a mix of Scrum and Kanban. Is it OK?"
And they answered:
As the Scrum Guide states "Scrum is a lightweight framework". So it is expected to be extended to form the full working model. All that is required is that these extensions are not in conflict with Scrum's values and a prescribed minimum set of roles, events, and artifacts.
Core concepts from Kanban like "visualize the flow of work items" or "limit the work in progress" are in no way in conflict with Scrum. In fact, they are common good practices in many Scrum teams.
"Visualize the flow of work items" directly works towards transparency, one of the pillars of Scrum.
"Limit the work in progress" helps the team with Scrum's value of Focus.
Yes, it is possible to combine both: Kanban in Scrum. How it works fine just read the “Kanban Guide for Scrum Teams” from scrum.org
Kanban is more than just the “Taskboard” that is mostly used in Scrum. Kanban improves the flow and the Kanban practices match very well with the Scrum work.
In general, I would argue it is way more important to understand and apply core principles of working agile and also of process frameworks to do so. With that understanding in place (and only then!) it is of course absolutely feasible to mix and match the best of different worlds depending on specific needs. For example, pure Scrum teams often struggle with maintaining a sustainable pace which is where elements from Kanban really help. On the other hand, pure Kanban implementations often lack a certain rhythm to sync on the evolution of the product which is where Scrum really shines.
The main question is: What does your team need to perform and do their daily work? If they figure out that principles and values from the Kanban framework (e.g. WIP-Limits) could be added in their Scrum process or vice versa - I would totally agree with combining Kanban and Scrum elements. They should always reflect on why they are implementing or combining two frameworks or best practices out of these. What is the value of it? Why does this help to create a potentially shippable product increment by the end of each sprint? In the end, it’s all about people and their interactions. The reflection of working models and processes helps a lot to make teamwork successfully together. So, find out what works best for you!
There are so many questions one could ask as a follow-up to that one - what area are you implementing this, what field are you working in, what department or what part of the team, are there more teams using it. But the most important, and really, the only question that matters here is - Is it working for you? If the answer is yes, then both of the answers are yes. If the mix of Scrum and Kanban isn't working then, why do it? It's not OK. Frameworks are just that, they're guides, they're rough outlines of how things can work. There's no right or wrong way to use them, so if it works for you, mix a little waterfall into it. If you're delivering the product or service, if your developers, product owners, stakeholders, and users are happy, who cares if you're using a hybrid system? Or something you entirely made up yourself from bits and pieces of different ideologies. Agile only works if you're agile about the framework as well!
There are two sides to this question.
I usually get triggered by this question. If you are inexperienced, it's a bad smell. A sign that you pick elements from both frameworks and drop things you don't understand. Or practices of Scrum visualize problems and you don't want to fix them. Say, You're unable to finish and release at the end of a sprint. Let's drop the iterations and call it Kanban. Or You are not able to plan ahead and get overwhelmed by stuff thrown into Your sprint. Call it Kanban and work in a reactive mode.
In this case, you are doing it wrong. You lose a lot of chances to learn and improve. You lose tools that help you to act.
On the other hand, you may gain a lot by combining ideas from both frameworks. Use Scrum to drive your product development and use tools from Kanban to improve your flow. The mix will help to get better in your delivery, reduce waste and improve cycle times. It starts with the board nearly every Scrum team uses. Add WIP to reduce parallel work and to spot problems.
It's a setup to increase the visibility of your way of working and to detect more problems. It helps you to continuously improve. And this makes it an indicator of a mature team. But in this case, you won't ask, because you already know the answer.
There is no rule that determines you should only use one or the other Agile framework. In my opinion, it is important that the team knows the basic principles of agile work and finds out for themselves what works best for them. Every single framework has something special and why not choose a combination of them? However, it is important to keep in mind that it should not turn into chaos and no one knows what to follow in the end. It needs fixed rituals and established processes to combine the best of both worlds (Scrum & Kanban) in order to ensure co-existence
About #AgileSeven: We ask every month our Agile Coaches and will publish on the 7th of each month their answers. Why 7? It is a magic number.