I need to choose an agile method of development for my team; we tried Scrum for the first two weeks, but since we have to make a simple universitarian project, we thought that Scrum was more appropriate for bigger projects (prioritization of user stories, deadline sprints, ...).

So I came across Kanban, but I couldn't find specific explanations about this method: I don't know how the work is modularised at the beginning, what is the work environment (what table should we use, what columns should we put in it), and the most important thing: is Kanban officially considered an agile method?

  • I am going to comment controversially and say that, to most of the Agile world, Kanban is considered Agile and exemplifies the Agile values when implemented well. The nucleus of people arguing that Kanban is not part of Agile are selling a form of Kanban from a certifying organisation and they can be quite loud and sound authoritative. Pitching Kanban as an alternative is a marketing technique to those disillusioned with Agile. Commented Jun 10, 2020 at 19:53
  • If you need more information about kanban, this article might appear helpful: kanbantool.com/kanban-guide/kanban-method
    – Mandy
    Commented Nov 21, 2023 at 16:11

8 Answers 8


You can't compare Scrum and Kanban. Scrum is a project management framework, while Kanban is a scheduling system to support Lean and Just-In-Time operations.

Kanban is one of the tools used in Lean. There is a form of Lean for software development called Lean Software Development, but even that can not be compared to Scrum. However, there is a relationship between Lean Software Development and the other agile practices.


Let me start out by saying that I'm speaking about The Kanban Method as pioneered by David J. Anderson and that I am the Program Director for the KCP program at LeanKanban University.

David has been on the record numerous times as saying that The Kanban Method is not an Agile software development methodology, but rather a methodology that is an alternative path to agility.

He expounds his views on this in his article kanban alternative path agility

The distinction is important because very often we see organizations adopt a defined Agile method (Scrum, DSDM, XP, etc) but are not agile. They are performing the rituals but have not embraced the values and mindset required to be agile. So in these cases, the adoption of the Agile methodology was intended to be a path to becoming an agile organization.

The Kanban Method is significantly less prescriptive regarding what you have to do from a ritualistic point of view and focuses more on observable improvements in service delivery and experimenting with numerous kinds of practices. As an example, a team may not feel that weekly sprints are helpful and want to move to a continuous flow model. The simplest experiment might be to move to on-demand (or more frequent) queue (sprint backlog) replenishment and see if that made the team more effective in providing services to the customer. If it didn't work, we'd roll back the policy change and try something else to improve the team's capability.

The important distinction is that the goal of The Kanban Method is to improve an organization's or team's ability to provide services to downstream partners (customers) in the workflow, using any practice that demonstrates an improvement. So we use The Kanban Method to achieve organizational agility vs seeing it as an Agile method that can be installed.

From a practicing point of view, you'll often see well-functioning Kanban teams and Scrum teams looking very similar because many of the practices are just good things to do. The Agile Manifesto is as valuable a guide to good behaviour for teams when you are talking about software development. Kanban also works in non-product development situations such as marketing, digital content creation, legal workflows, etc as described in numerous white papers from our LeanKanban conference series.

If you'd like to review my thoughts on the practical differences you'll see between two software development teams practising Kanban and Scrum, please check out this blog post as well.

  • Updated the expired 'kanban alternative path agility' link to an archived version. Commented Jun 10, 2020 at 7:36
  • I've had the broken link repaired and need to have an edit of the link back to the non-archive version. djaa.com/kanban-the-alternative-path-to-agility
    – Dave White
    Commented Jun 10, 2020 at 12:49
  • This is just a thinly veiled advert for LKU and David has been on record disparaging Agile numerous times. It is absolute rubbish to claim Kanban "provides a path to agility" but is not part of the "agile" ecosystem. The LKU is almost a parody at this point consistently promoting itself as a competitor to Scrum. It was only 2 weeks ago that David said Kanban provides 900% more productive value than Scrum. Commented Jun 10, 2020 at 19:46
  • @Venture2099 Do your feelings or interpretations invalidate my statements answering the question? I'd love to hear your thoughts as to my answers.
    – Dave White
    Commented Jan 12, 2021 at 17:44
  • @DaveWhite you haven't actually said anything, it is just paragraphs of waffle to be honest. I expect nothing less from LKU at this stage. "Not part of Agile but an alternative path to Agility" is just nonsense. If you want to sell more books and training then sell them. It is a free market, but don't wrap it up in some esoteric speciality. Commented Feb 9, 2021 at 14:02

You'll often see the word agile around the context of Kanban which can be confusing, e.g. here it's used in the context of "for agile teams": http://www.versionone.com/what-is-kanban/

BUT...You ask "is it an agile methodology?", and the previous respondents correctly answer the question along the Stack Exchange guidelines.

If instead you'd asked "where can I find info about Kanban so I am better placed to make decisions on it" I'd refer you to this series of videos, or even just watch the first video in the series: http://channel9.msdn.com/Series/Using-Kanban.

  • 1
    Thank you for the link Tofa :) My question was aimed to find out if Kanban is considered an agile method, but (correct me if I'm wrong) it's just a tool not the method itself... Basically, was I asking for some yeast instead of a Big Mac? XD
    – elmazzun
    Commented Jul 30, 2014 at 15:03

Kanban (the original) is quite old, is was developed in Japan by Taiichi Ohno at Toyota. The Kanban principles are quite simple to control the product flow in a production chain. (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kanban)

You can transfer this concept simply to other things like task of a backlog or bugs to check in testing and so on.

I don't see any agile concepts in Kanban it is just an control flow mechanism and is one of the tools of Lean.

Agile and Lean has some similar principles (e.g. both focus on people) but with different goals. Agile methods like Scrum is a Project Management approach. Lean try to reduce "waste".

  • If you tied Scrum for two weeks you just covered one sprint or what was your timeframe?
  • Why consider an agile PM method, are your requirements not clear?
  • Do you like to have a regular validation cycle with your "customer"?
  • What do you develop? SW?

You have to explain more about your project.


To answer your question, Kanban is not considered an Agile method, it is more related to the Lean methodology. Check out this short guide on starting doing Kaban. It sums up the key points and should make it clearer for you what Kanban entails. http://www.eylean.com/blog/2014/07/5-steps-to-start-doing-kanban/


First you have to keep in mind there are two different Kanbans out there. There is the Kanban Method, which is often quite useful but is not often my transition method of choice and then there is Kanban as an approach for managing the development part of a value stream. This is often called Lean-Kanban, Open Kanban, Kanban Thinking. While it is quite different from Scrum, it can be used in the same places that Scrum can be used. Kanban as a team approach can be very powerful. I consider Kanban, Kanban Method and Scrum as point solutions in the bigger lean space. The thing to keep in mind is that you want to consider which approach will help you achieve the results you want in your situation. There are several blogs I've written on this that you can find at www.netobjectives.com/blog

Insights at Agile 2014 Part 1 of 3 Insights at Agile 2014, Part III: Lean-Agile Development, 3rd Generation Agile The Scrum to Kanban Method Spectrum: Deciding Which Approach To Use Extending the Kanban Method - Updated

Al Shalloway


From the words of my tutor Dr. Strode... Kanban is not an agile methodology I cant remember the exact details why though sorry.

Off topic scrum is more ideal for smaller projects it doesn't work well with large projects, and if you were in a large project RAD might be a more better option. But it sounds like you need to hire a good scrum master.

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