This comparison has been beaten to death on the Internet by people much smarter on these topics than I. I'll briefly review both and explain how I've seen these methodologies work firsthand outside of software development.

Scrum identifies a fixed number of work tasks to be completed within a given time window, called a sprint. The process begins with sprint planning, which identifies tasks in scope for a given sprint. At the end of the sprint, all tasks brought from the backlog into the sprint should have been completed. After the sprint, the customer should "gain value" from the completed tasks. Scrum constrains batch size using time, typically 2 to 4 weeks per sprint.

Kanban, in my view, is simpler. There is no concept of a fixed time interval (that is, no sprint). Instead, work tasks move from the "To Do" state, to the "Work In Process" state, to the "Done" state. Work tasks should only flow in one direction. The key to Kanban is limiting the amount of work in process, typically to a small number of tasks. This means that whenever a single task is done, customer value can conceivably be delivered faster.

I personally haven't managed a scrum team, but have participated as a member on a systems engineering team. The team leader would ask individuals which tasks they were going to complete in the sprint. Sometimes tasks were assigned in a top-down fashion. For the next 2 weeks, no one was allowed to work on anything outside of the sprint's scope. It was a reasonably effective method.

I use two Kanban boards in my personal life. One tracks my personal tasks which includes my business commitments and big-ticket administrative items. The second is for the work on our house. We bought a house in late 2018 and spent 2 months fixing it up. We completed 76 projects during that period, averaging more than 1 per day. Kanban limited us to a maximum of 2 concurrent projects, period, no exceptions. These ranged from painting to installing GFCI outlets to replacing water supply plumbing. Some took one hour, some took several days. My wife and I were encouraged to simply "move cards from left to right as fast as possible".

There is more to Kanban than just tracking work tasks. One of my favorite attributes of the method is that it surfaces problems. This comment rates its own blog post, so I'll discuss it another time. In the meantime, you've got nothing to lose by trying Kanban. Just play by the golden rule: do not start new work until the existing work is complete.

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