Often in the midst of a conversation about what I do for a living, I’ll catch myself interchanging the words “Agile” and “Scrum.” I’ve noticed this elsewhere in the Agile/PM community. If you google something similar to “what is the difference between Agile and Scrum” you’ll see plenty of people with a lack of understanding what the two terms really mean. Let’s take a look!
What is Agile?
Agile, at its core, is a belief system surrounding how projects should be run. When Agile first truly graced the world the Agile Manifesto was published with a very bold statement that we (agilists) “are uncovering better ways of developing software by doing it and helping other do it” along with a set of values and principles. The values speak to core tenants of Agile, such as the last value which flies in the face of many project management philosophies – “responding to change over following a plan.”
You can read the entire Agile Manifesto to get the full effect of what the original creators of Agile were trying to do. They were trying to tell us that project management, especially around software development, can be done a much better way. In short, Agile is the “why” part of the Agile/Scrum equation.
What is Scrum?
Scrum, on the other hand, is the “how” of the Agile/Scrum equation. While the Agile Manifesto tells us why we should run projects in an “agile” manner, it doesn’t specify many details as to how we actually achieve these. Enter Scrum (or Lean, Kanban, XP/Extreme Programming, etc.). Whether or not you want to call Scrum a framework (there is some debate on this topic) at the heart of Scrum is a series of ceremonies, each with a specific purpose in fulfilling the intent of the Agile Manifesto.
Looking deeper into Scrum is an entirely different topic, and is the subject of MANY training classes and certifications.