This article describes the intention behind cadence and time-boxing in Scrum and Kanban.
Iterations or Cadence and Discipline
The heart of Scrum is the sprint. However, a planned sprint is not the only way to achieve its value. However, if we want to abandon sprints, we must understand what value they provide and achieve that in some other manner.
The Value of a Sprint
A sprint provides a time-box within which to fit work. This “time-box” is from the time after planning to the time we set for the end of work. The sprint probably has another day for the demo and retrospection. Scrum’s time-boxing has some interesting side effects which are quite useful such as the following.
Cadence means to have a regular beat. In Scrum, sprints provide the regular beat. The start and end of a sprint provides timing for the following.
Scrum uses the sprint to set the cadence of the above actions. Scrum’s structure provides a great degree of discipline for the teams. This is one reason Scrum is a good starting point for many teams wanting to become Agile.
Alternatives to a Sprint
Kanban’s flow model does not require a time-box. However, a cadence to do the above collaborations is useful. In either case the cadence provides for different teams to have a set time for collaboration. A flow model requires the addition of other practices in order to achieve what Scrum achieves with its sprint. These include:
Scrum without sprints is not kanban
We often hear teams saying they are doing Kanban when what they’ve really done is abandon sprints. This is not Kanban. Kanban requires the items in the ‘Alternatives to sprints.’ It takes more disciplinen to do this, which is why starting with Scrum and then moving to Kanban can be a good thing for some teams.