December 22, 2015

Agile – Adopting to Change vs Following a Plan – a football analogy

Written by Jannette Brace

As I sat watching Sunday Football, and thinking of my upcoming blog… I became aware of the similarities between football and Agile! Consider this, each time my football team has the ball, they have an end goal; to get points on the board. They also have intermediary goals, to deliver 1st downs in order to retain the ball. They studied the opposition, and made some plans for the game. Then at the beginning of each play, they make a plan in the huddle, and execute. At half-time they have a retrospective.

So if you are into football, ask yourself; what would happen if they had to plan the entire game in advance? What would happen if they couldn’t respond to change within game or even the down? The ability of each player to take responsibility for their work, seeing the big picture, and responding to change as needed keeps the game going. It also parallels what we do when working in Scrum Teams.

Our big picture is provided by the Product Owner. Our end goal to deliver on the big picture incrementally by accomplishing 1st downs. Sprint Planning allows us to see where we are and identify our plan for the sprint (football’s quarter). Our Daily Scrum allows us to plan the play for a day just like in a football huddle. Based on outcomes, we adapt to change continuing to focus on the end goal.

It takes the entire team to play the game. Each player must be accountable for what they are doing. Otherwise the quarterback gets sacked, the ball is fumbled, and overall play is stymied. There is total visibility. No one can hide if they don’t deliver. Sound familiar. It should. If it doesn’t, than your team may not be transparent about its work.

The Product Owner is like the Quarterback, supplying the team with user stories for the sprint. The Scrum Master is like the Coach, supplying support from the sidelines.

So when it comes to adapting to change vs following a plan, think about that football team you watch on Sunday night.  First, embrace the fact that being Agile allows us to adapt to change and that adaption is what helps us win the game. Second, make sure you make the most out of the huddle, or Daily Scrum, by truly planning how to move the ball, or story, down the field.  Finally, hold the team accountable while you drive to the end goal.  No football team ever wins on the basis of one player alone.

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One Response to “Agile – Adopting to Change vs Following a Plan – a football analogy”

  1. Karan Singh says:

    Hello Jannette,

    Today, as I was getting ready to watch Patriots Super Bowl with my son and few friends, I was thinking about Agile relating to Football and found this great article from you… Thank you and did try to share with my friends…

    Regards,
    Karan.

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