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Scrum is like rugby, right?

William de Wit, 12 April 2023

In February of this year, I participated in a Scrum training with an Acorel colleague. I already knew what Scrum was and I have participated in multiple Scrum teams in my professional career, but I always wanted to dive deeper into the theory of Scrum and why this is such a successful way of creating functionality as a team.

What impresses me the most about Scrum is its focus on creating a self-organising team. This means that the team is responsible for managing its own work, rather than relying on outside direction or supervision. In many ways, this is similar to the way a rugby team operates – while there is a coach providing guidance and strategy, it’s ultimately up to the players on the field to make split-second decisions and work together to achieve their objectives.

The Scrum framework is designed to support this self-organising approach by providing a set of roles, events, and artifacts that help the team to stay on track and work together effectively. The Scrum roles are like the different positions on a rugby team – each with its own responsibilities and contributions to the overall success of the team. The Product Owner is responsible for defining the product vision and prioritising the work that needs to be done. The Scrum Master is focused on facilitating the Scrum process and removing any obstacles that might impede progress. The Development Team is responsible for actually doing the work and delivering the product increments.

In addition to the roles, Scrum also includes a set of events that help to structure the work and ensure that everyone is aligned and working towards the same goals. These events include the Sprint Planning, Daily Scrum, Sprint Review, and Sprint Retrospective. Each of these events serves a specific purpose and helps to keep the team on track and focused on delivering value to the customer.

Another important aspect of Scrum is its emphasis on transparency and continuous improvement. This is where the inspection and adaptation pillars come into play – by regularly reviewing progress and making adjustments as necessary, the team can ensure that they are always moving in the right direction and delivering value to the customer. This is similar to the way a rugby team might review game footage or adjust their strategy based on their opponents’ strengths and weaknesses.

Of course, all of this talk about Scrum and rugby might make it sound like a very serious and intense process, but that’s not necessarily the case. In fact, one of the things that I appreciate most about the rugby field approach to Scrum training is the opportunity to have fun and be creative. We played a variety of games and exercises using a rugby ball, which helped to break up the day and keep things engaging. It also allowed us to practice our teamwork and communication skills in a dynamic and fast-paced environment.

Obviously, it wasn’t all fun and games – we also had to face some of the more challenging aspects of Scrum, such as managing the Product Backlog and dealing with difficult stakeholders. But by approaching these challenges with a sense of humour and a willingness to work together, we were able to overcome them and come away from the training with a strong sense of camaraderie and purpose.

In conclusion, Scrum is a powerful framework for managing complex projects and delivering value to the customer (every sprint you try to release functionality). Whether you’re a software developer, a consultant, or a rugby player, there are many lessons to be learned from the Scrum approach. By focusing on transparency, inspection, adaptation and by building a self-organising team with clear roles and responsibilities, you can achieve great things and have fun in the process. So next time you’re on the rugby field or in the boardroom, remember the lessons of Scrum and work together to achieve your goals – with a smile on your face and a rugby ball in your hand!

At Acorel we have a lot of knowledge regarding Scrum. If you have any questions regarding Scrum, feel free to contact me or one of my colleagues!

William de Wit

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