Football and Scrum

Having recently sat the Microsoft exam 70-498 – Delivering Continuous Value using Application Lifecycle Management and having regular sessions with our Agile coach Master Kelvin Lawrence, I was intrigued to see if the SCRUM methodology could be used in real world, non-software related processes.

Being a keen footballer, I decided to come with comparisons between the two. It turns out that a football team can in fact follow a process like SCRUM to become more successful.

  • Sprints

In software, a sprint is usually a short period of time (1-2 weeks) that is used to define goals to achieve. In software development there needs to be a set of functioning pieces of code that can be deployed to production.

In Football these sprints are in-between match days. At the end of each sprint the work put into training and preparation can be used during the match.

  • Sprint Planning

In software development, at the beginning of each sprint the user stories must be selected based on priorities. The same is true in football, the managers and coaches get together and decide what set-pieces/training drills should be used ready for next week’s game. Not all drills can be used, so the most important ones are chosen. It’s important to get the priorities set up correctly in both scenarios, we would not want user stories or practice drills that would not be used in the final product/match.

  • Retrospectives

Within SCRUM after each sprint there is a meeting where the team discusses what went well and what could be improved for the next sprint. Similarly, in football after a game, the coaches/managers and players come together to review the outcome. If a football team did not review and reflect on previous games they would never get better. Usually non-functional processes are discussed more than anything else. Maybe the coaches did not have time to practice a certain drill, or a developer was stuck on a user story that wasn’t even needed in the end. The retrospective is more used to help fix how things should be run and organised each week.

  • Burn Down Charts and Story Points

In Scrum the Burn Down Charts and Story Points work together to tell the software team how much is getting done within each sprint and to forecast when the team will finish the release. If too much work is placed into the sprints, the quality of the software will go down because it will not be coded as effectively and it will not be tested as well. The same decision process occurs for a coach when planning the plays to put in for the next game. If too many new plays or wrinkles are put in during the week, then none of them will be run very well or tested very well. This will make for a bad outcome during the game.

  • Roles within SCRUM

Within SCRUM there are 3 main roles, SCRUM master, product owner, and development team. You can translate these 3 roles into football also.  A referee is similar to a SCRUM master, the product owner is a combination of both the coaches/managers leaving the development team and the players.

Just as we have seen with football, Scrum can be applied to all kinds of everyday processes in life. The fundamentals of Scrum promote quality, priorities, and transparency, which will make the results of any process more successful.

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