Having interacted with a lot of people across organizations, projects, and domains, there is a common misconception that floats – We are doing Agile, when what they actually mean is we are doing Scrum (following scrum methodology).
Scrum is a lightweight framework that helps people, teams and organizations generate value through adaptive solutions for complex problems. Put in other words scrum is an iterative, incremental approach to optimize predictability and to control risk.
However, Agile is much bigger. Being Agile means you have understood the Agile principles and values. You understand the pillars of Scrum – transparency, inspection and adaption before you actually start implementing Scrum framework. It means you have the right commitment in adopting Agile as a mindset to everything that you do.
Simply implementing scrum does not mean you are agile.
A related myth is that Agile work needs to be done in the form of increments / sprints. There are many other Agile methodologies which do not include Sprints. Kanban is one such methodology where there are no sprints. Let us take an example.
For production support teams, wherein the tasks keep coming and need to be taken care on the go, reprioritized frequently, it would not be appropriate to wait for a sprint cycle to complete. Rather the focus should be on continuous delivery. In such a system you would not need prescribed phased durations. A Kanban model fits much better here.
In the above example, you can be agile while not following Scrum
In another example – A project has been following all of the scrum ceremonies every sprint consistently. The team is attending the daily stand ups and talking on what they did yesterday, what they will do today and if they have any impediments (three question format). However, the team is not aligned to the customer vision, product goal and are not taking ownership of the deliverables at hand.
In the above example, you are doing (following) scrum and not being agile.
While scrum does fall in the Agile umbrella, it is not qual to Agile. There are many more such methodologies that fall under Agile. More importantly, Agile is a mindset, a culture that we should embrace.