Scrum Kanban Lean

Scrum vs. Kanban vs. Lean: Which method is best for you?

Reading time: about 6 min


  • Agile and project planning

Scrum vs. Kanban vs. Lean: Which method is best for you?

Work smarter not harder. Have you ever been told this? Have you ever said that to anyone? It turns out, there are terms for this. They are Agile and Lean. If there is misalignment, unachieved goals, or strong resistance to change on your team, then keep reading.

Agile and Lean methodologies started out as industry-specific frameworks. Today, they are used across every industry as a means to, well, work smarter, not harder.

In this article, we will learn about Lean and Agile, the different types of Agile frameworks, and how project managers and project owners can effectively use Lean and Agile for project management.


Project manager vs. project owners

Let’s start with some quick definitions for what being a project owner vs. project manager means. 

Project owner

A project owner is a person with a vision of how the project will look when completed and what problems it will solve. They ensure that the project is in alignment with the OKRs of the organization and then put together a team to execute the project. A good project owner is strategic, enthusiastic, flexible, and perceptive.

Project managers

Project managers oversee the project in its entirety and pave the way for the team to complete their milestones. Other responsibilities include planning, monitoring, and communicating the team’s progress to stakeholders.

Agile project management strives to deliver the most value for as low a cost as possible. Often, the project is broken down into more manageable increments and prioritized accordingly. In addition, agile project managers are collaborative, adaptable, and focused on customer satisfaction.


Agile initially sprouted from the software development industry in 2000 from 17 developers. It is focused on adaptiveness to change. Rather than one big product launch, teams release parts of the project in increments so that they can carefully evaluate their work and respond to changes quickly. 

Though there are different Agile methodologies, we can see consistent values throughout them all.

There are four central values from the Agile Manifesto:

  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools 
  • Working software over comprehensive documentation
  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
  • Responding to change over following a plan

To dive deeper, 12 principles have stemmed from these values: 

  1. Satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software.
  2. Welcome changing requirements for the customer’s competitive advantage.
  3. Deliver working software often and in shorter increments.
  4. Developers and stakeholders must collaborate throughout the duration of the project.
  5. Give autonomy and support to the people involved in the project.
  6. Validate face-to-face communication.
  7. Working software is the primary measure of progress.
  8. Sponsors, users, and developers should maintain a constant development pace.
  9. Attention to technical detail and design improves agility.
  10. Keep it simple.
  11. Self-organizing teams produce the best architectures, designs, and requirements.
  12. Have regular reflections to adjust behavior.



Scrum is a type of Agile framework that promotes teamwork. It is focused on meeting the customer’s needs by practicing good communication, responsibility, and continuous progress. Scrum is divided into fixed sprints of two weeks each. Within these sprints, different meetings are held to keep everyone aligned. Let’s take a look at each meeting type.

  • Sprint planning: Items in the backlog are assigned out to team members, and the upcoming sprint is planned.
  • Daily Scrum: Teams meet daily to share what tasks they are working on, tasks they have completed, and if there are any blockers in the day that they might need help with.
  • Sprint review: The team and stakeholders assess the product’s sprint goal and demo features.
  • Sprint retrospective: The team discusses what went well and could be better moving forward.

There are three different roles within a Scrum team. First, the Scrum master’s primary function is to facilitate meetings and ensure that the team works by Agile principles. They remove obstacles, address conflicts, and mediate between the team and external stakeholders. Second, the product owner is responsible for managing the product backlog, reordering the items within the product backlog, and providing support to the developers to answer any customer needs questions. Third, the developers are members of the team who have specialized skills to complete the work and deliver value to their customers. 

Using Scrum, tasks are visible, roles are defined, and everyone is aligned.

Scrum Board
Scrum Board Template (click link to edit)


Kanban is an adaptive framework used in Agile and Lean to design, manage, and improve team workflow and systems. The three main goals of Kanban are:

  • Increase transparency through visualization
  • Limit work in progress
  • Maximize flow

Kanban is represented on a board that categorizes tasks as work that needs to be done, work in progress, and work that is completed. Within each column on the board, cards are used to represent items in the workflow. 

A Kanban board is great for getting a high-level view of your project—you can easily see the status of all the tasks involved in the project. The board is beneficial not only for a project manager but for an entire team. If someone is waiting for a team member to finish a task before they can work on the next thing, they can quickly check the status of their colleague’s work.

Additionally, a Kanban board forces you to limit the number of tasks you take on. This prevents team members from feeling overwhelmed.


Kanban Board
Kanban Board Template (click to edit)


The idea of Lean manufacturing began in the 1940s at Toyota. Since, it has spread across every industry and has proven incredible ROI. Lean helps teams minimize waste without compromising productivity. Essentially, it is about increasing customer value without generating more costs. 

“Lean manufacturing uses less of everything compared with mass production—half the human effort in the factory, half the manufacturing floor space, half the investment in tools, half the engineering hours to develop a new product in half the time. Also it requires keeping far less than half the needed inventory on site and results in fewer defects.” – James Womack, author

The Lean philosophy has five main steps/principles:

  • Value: Define the value that you are delivering to your customers. Is there a demand for what you are offering?
  • Value stream: Map out what is needed to deliver your product.
  • Process flow: Establish a repeatable process to enable smooth production.
  • Create pull: Ensure that there is a demand for your products before “pulling” parts needed to deliver them.
  • Pursue perfection: Continually refine your processes and strive to become better.
Lean Canvas
Lean Template (click to edit)

Using Lucidspark for projects

Project owners and project managers alike can use Lucidspark to visualize their processes and increase collaboration on their teams. Whether you use Scrum, Kanban, or Lean, Lucidspark is your go-to application to stay organized and aligned. With 100+ templates focused on project planning, teams can easily achieve their goal and keep their organization moving forward.


Make Agile work for you with the help of Lucidspark.

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