Kanban and Scrum are two powerful methods/frameworks in the Agile world, each offering distinct benefits for managing work and delivering value. However, integrating Kanban into a Scrum environment is not always straightforward, and it may not be the right move for every team, especially if the team is struggling with fundamental Scrum practices. Before diving into Kanban, ensuring that your Scrum foundation is solid is crucial. Here’s why adding Kanban practices might introduce more challenges if you’re not doing Scrum well and what your team can do to incorporate Kanban principles successfully.

The Pitfalls of Integrating Kanban into an Unstable Scrum Practice

1. Increased Complexity

Kanban may introduce additional layers of process management that can complicate an already shaky Scrum practice. If your team is struggling with basic Scrum elements like sprint cadence, empiricism, and delivering Done increment,  adding Kanban’s work-in-progress (WIP) limits, cycle times, and throughput metrics can overwhelm your team and dilute the focus.

 Introducing Kanban may feel like managing two sets of processes simultaneously, which can be overwhelming if your team is not confident with Scrum.

2. Diluted Focus on Improvement

Scrum’s structure aims at continuous improvement through regular retrospectives and sprint reviews. Introducing Kanban prematurely can shift the focus away from these core practices, making it harder to address fundamental issues in your Scrum process.

The team might focus on new Kanban practices instead of addressing existing issues within their Scrum framework. The goals of Scrum and Kanban improvement efforts might conflict, leading to misaligned and less effective improvement strategies.

If the team tries to juggle too many new concepts, the quality of retrospectives might suffer, reducing their effectiveness.

3. Conflicting Practices

Scrum and Kanban take different approaches to work management. Scrum is time-boxed, incremental, and iterative, focusing on delivering increments of work in sprints, while Kanban is flow-based and continuous. If your team hasn’t mastered Scrum’s rhythm and discipline, mixing these approaches can create confusion and reduce effectiveness.

Teams may struggle to balance Scrum’s time-boxed nature with Kanban’s continuous flow.

Scrum’s defined accountabilities may clash with Kanban’s more fluid approach, leading to ambiguity and conflicts.

4. Metrics Overload

Kanban’s metrics, such as WIP, cycle time, and throughput, provide valuable insights but can be overwhelming if your team is not accustomed to using data for decision-making. Adding Kanban metrics can lead to information overload and misinformed decisions without a strong understanding of Scrum metrics.

Without proper training, teams might misinterpret Kanban metrics, leading to poor decision-making. Managing two sets of metrics can create inconsistencies in reporting and tracking progress.

What Your Scrum Team Should Do First

Before integrating Kanban practices, it’s essential to strengthen your Scrum foundation. We deeply dive into these practices in our Professional Scrum classes. You may want to enroll for the next one:

PSM Training | Fri-Sat, 7-8 Jun


PSK Training | Fri-Sat, 28-29 Jun

The next article will discover how Scrum teams can prepare for Kanban integration.



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