Scrum, Lean, Kanban, scale and other agile methods

Find out what agile methods are - Scrum, Lean, Kanban? Read this key vocabulary to get started in the agile world on the right foot.


Let's talk about agile methods. Some novel and dynamic ones that seek to solve a variety of needs or challenges in organizations. However, the problem is that nowadays everyone wants to get involved in some way with agility o agile. Of course, not everything is. This reflects a profound lack of knowledge of such popular concepts as Scrum and Kanban. However, far from all the froth that results from this effervescence, agility is based on principles and not practices, allowing a large number of methods and practices to be labeled as agile. Still in doubt? Don't worry, this short vocabulary will help you understand like an expert.

Here I use references to other articles and authors in order to keep the concepts simple and bring clarity to those beginning their process of learning and growing towards an agile, collaborative and efficient mindset.

Of course, not all tools are methods and not all methods are "agile".


From according to an article by Steve Denning published in Forbesagility agility is the ability of organizations to master continuous change, enabling them to thrive in an increasingly volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA).

Therefore, with this broad definition very oriented to adaptation, we can infer that agility can apply to complex organizations, small companies, workgroups or even individuals. For each environment there is a set of agile methods, best practices and experiences that allow us to understand the appropriation process.

Scrum: High Performance Teams

According to the fathers of Scrum - and I don't mean the play of Rugby - Jeff Sutherland and Ken Schwaber [The Scrum Guides™]: a framework within which people can address complex adaptive problems while delivering products in the most productive and creative way.

Although the definition is somewhat broad, the truth is that Scrum is one of the most popular and simple agile methods for organizing small groups of people into autonomous teams. It is very popular in the world of software development, and as a team coordination mechanism it can be applied beyond projects, to operation processes, product maintenance and service operation.

Scrum establishes values and principles that promote collaboration, teamwork and teamwork and accountability. Define clear roles and events or ceremonies as part of the ceremonies as part of the management process.

Agility at Scale

Scrum, by definition, applies to small teams - for some no more than 10 people. However, large organizations face challenges inherent to the size (number of people) in an office, location or even in the enterprise, and therefore need a different combination of agile methods - or agile practices.

Scale then is the concept related to the number of people - or agile groups - that must interact to create an outcome or product.

The greater the number of people, the greater the complexity and the greater the need for coordination. This problem at scale was identified by Frederick Brooks in famous essay The Mythical Man-Month and later as a broader concept in his book The Design of Design. The scale entails a need for Conceptual Integrity which requires the design of systems to be homogeneous among the different actors in the process. Simple designs can be attributed to a single individual or architect, more complex concepts require the interaction of multiple people.

Do you want to know more about organizational agility? I invite you to read my article about the specific topic and how to get into this large-scale agile world.

Some examples of the challenges associated with coordinating multiple Agile teams in the agile teams in the organization are:

  • Security. In companies in heavily regulated sectors such as banking or defense, autonomous teams require a lot of coordination to maintain compliance with regulations - external and internal.
  • Enterprise Architecture. Independent designs but able to communicate with each other.
  • Operation as a Service. Many products can be developed in an agile and incremental way, but operation, maintenance and future improvements are not always contemplated. This condemns products to have very short life cycles, or rapid obsolescence.


Kanban, on the other hand, comes from the production and delivery model. Just In Time from Toyota. But, within the world of agile processes, we could over-simplify and say that it is an open communication mechanism that allows to visualize and optimize the workflow.

Kanban can be used in a complementary way to other management and communication practices. A simple and short video explains the general concept behind this open and centralized communication model - although the theory is much more complete.

Kanban - Workflow Management

Design Thinking

According to the academic program description Mastering Design Thinking of MITdesign thinking: a powerful problem-solving process that begins with understanding unmet customer needs. begins with an understanding of unmet customer needs. From that insight comes an innovation process that encompasses concept development, applied creativity, prototyping and concept development, applied creativity, prototyping and experimentation. experimentation. When design thinking approaches are applied to companies, the success rate of the companies, the success rate of innovation improves substantially.

If we think that agility is the ability to adapt to change, Design Thinking is not an agile method in itself. However, Design Thinking is a powerful tool that allows to identify "change" or "future opportunities" source of deep change. In this context it is a great complement and helps to build competitive advantages.

Design Sprint

From according to Jake Knapp, author of the book The Sprint: How to solve big problems and test new ideas in just five days:

  • It is a five-day process to solve problems and test new ideas.
  • It has been directly validated by the Google Ventures group in more than 150 ventures.
  • It's very simple and uses similar concepts to Scrum teams - multidisciplinary and autonomous or, at the very least, empowered.

This is a tool that uses some "agile" terms like Sprint, to talk about a punctual effort in a very short period of time - five days. It is not an iterative model, i.e. it does not repeat as happens with Scrum Sprints.

But it is within the context of what we call "agility".


Like agility, Lean - sometimes translated as lean or lean - is a quality of an organization or process. According to the Lean Enterprise Institute:

The main idea [behind Lean or Lean Thinking] is to maximize the customer value while minimizing waste. Simply put, Lean means creating more value for customers with fewer resources.

Of course, this concept is then applicable to many areas of knowledge, for example:

Management 3.0

Well, management is neither a process nor an agile method. Management 3.0, it's more a line of thinking that assumes that leadership and people management - management - are not the same thing. This term is made famous by Jurgen Appelo with the book Management 3.0. Jurgen defines M3.0 as:

Management 3.0 is not just another framework - frameworkIt is a mindset, combined with an ever-changing collection of games, tools and practices to help any worker manage the organization. It is a way of looking at work systems.

Website: Management 3.0: The Future of Management and Leadership

Lean Change Management

We could say that, LCM - Lean Change Management - is a result of the thinking and ideas brought by Jason Little's Management 3.0. Basically, LCM is a change management model oriented to short feedback cycles - a very agile approach some would say.

Jason Littel, creator of LCM describes it as:

Lean Change Management is an approach based on feedback and feedback - feedback - for change management inspired by the best ideas from Agile, Lean Startup, Change Management and Design Thinking.

Lean Change Management: Modern Practices for Managing Organizational Change


Although this short article talks about some of the most popular "agile methods" of the moment, the truth is, not all of them are methods and not all of them are, necessarily, agile. Agility is a mindset - mindset - which is the basis of an ecosystem of consolidated and emerging practices oriented to the intelligent management of people and teams.

Concepts related to agility will keep appearing and linking up. That in itself is agility, the ability to adapt.

Did I miss any? Do you think I should update the article with another one? Go ahead and leave your comment about "agile methods".


Alberto Dominguez
Alberto Dominguez

Leading teams from theory to real and sustainable delivery of innovative IT products and services.

Articles: 44

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