What is the difference between Scrum and agile?

Agility is the ability to respond to change. Organisations, teams and individuals that have an ability to respond to changing consumer demand, market conditions and new technology entrants are hugely successful.

Simply put, ‘agile’ is a bunch of tools and techniques that help achieve agility, which is why there is such a buzz about ‘being agile’ in the business world. Over the years, practitioners have identified some of the best techniques for helping teams and organisations become agile and realised that some of them work particularly well together.

These groupings of agile tools and techniques have become known as a ‘agile frameworks’. There’s a few of them such as DSDM, XP, Crystal, Kanban amongst others, but Scrum has for a long time been a recognised favourite as it needs discipline without lots of experience to implement, it is reasonably specific and defined just enough to get teams using it quickly and easily.

What is Scrum?

According to the Scrum Guide, that is the definitive guide to its use, “Scrum is a framework for developing and sustaining complex products”. This is a crucial clarification because it means that it is best suited to optimising stable situations such as product development. Teams with the greatest success using scrum recognise that it’s beauty lies in its simplicity and so don’t over-stretch it to make it become a methodology for running an entire company or department. Other frameworks, such as Kanban are better for that.

Frequently, after having implemented an agile framework, a mature team will start to find the rules of a framework a constraint and want to bring some variety to it through adding or dropping tools. This is fine, so long as you stay guided by the Lean Principles for Software Delivery, Agile Manifesto and 5 guiding principles of Kanban – all of which underpin every agile way of working.

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