Agile and Scrum Are Not the Same Thing (Dammit!)

In doing research for a Learning Path on Agile, I was looking for articles that concisely articulate the difference between Agile and frameworks like Scrum that are based on it. I was very surprised to find a dearth of content that appropriately differentiates them. I started a thread on LinkedIn to see if I was alone in this perception that got over 25,000 views (even Jeff Sutherland, a co-creator of Scrum, chimed in). Well, as they say, if you want to do something right, you have to do it yourself. Here goes…

Agile is a set of values and principles. The values are enumerated in the Agile Manifestothe principles are articulated separately. According to Jeff, “Agile is not a process, it is a set of values.” In a moment we’ll explore what Agile is NOT.

While Agile’s values and principles are enlightening, they provide insufficient operational guidance to get work done, e.g., software development. That is why various frameworks have evolved based on Agile to help teams work together to create better software. A thorough description of these frameworks is far beyond the scope of this post, but suffice it to say the following are widely considered frameworks or “methods” that reflect Agile’s values and principles:

  • Scrum
  • Crystal Clear
  • Kanban
  • Extreme Programming (XP)

I hope the following assertions are unambiguous:

  • Agile is a set of values and principles
  • Scrum and other methods are development frameworks and methods based on Agile values and principles
  • Agile is NOT a methodology (it’s a set of values and principles)
  • Scrum is NOT a methodology (it’s a framework)
  • Conflating Agile and frameworks/methods based on it shows a fundamental misunderstanding of both
  • The conflation of Agile and derivative frameworks/methods has reached epidemic proportions. Please don’t contribute to this nonsense

Now, let’s never speak of this again.