Scrum vs Scrum (rugby and process)

I am a huge fan of both Rugby Union and the Scrum methodology. When I first heard of the framework there was a sense of wonderment at the use of the rugby term to describe the development framework.

For those folk who are not too familiar with the rugby version, this is a short video of just scrums.

From this, you see some scrums that go bad – (collapses,  going backwards), and some solid scrums.

For a scrum to work in either sense the following must be in place:

Cohesive Team – the tight 5 (front row and second row) must work as a cohesive unit for the scrum to go anywhere. Without great collaboration, the scrum goes nowhere. In much the same way a fragmented scrum team will not realise the hyper productivity that is the sweet spot. It should be fun, while being some of the hardest graft you have ever done. At the end you must be able to reflect with pride on the work that you have done.

Commitment – If you don’t commit, you will fail. In the rugby scrum it is the initial contact (the engage) that determines whether the scrum will collapse or settle. If either side does not completely commit, the scrum will collapse. If you are on a team where there is not a common level of commitment, the sprint will not go as well as you plan. The reliance on your fellow team members must be there. This trust takes time to develop, and where altering the team will affect the teams velocity.

Balance of Skills – The rugby scrum uses some of the most specialised positions on the pitch, and you need the selection right to be able to scrummage effectively, In the same way you need the right skill mix in the scrum team. There are no silos any more – you need to get to done. so you need people with the skills to design, build, test, package, deploy and document the incremental release. You can’t go in to a rugby scrum with the hooker, thinking you will sort that out after the scrum – you will have lost by then. Similarly you can’t go in to a sprint with the assumption that the testing will be completed later – you won’t get to done.

Focus and Intent – In both the game and the framework you need to have a clear goal and the intent to achieve it. In the rugby scrum a lack of intent will result in a collapse or similar. Watch at 1:08 where the opposition prop is “popped” out of the scrum allowing the wallabies to drive through. In the framework world, a lack of focus and intent will stop either getting anything done, or not clearing the PBI.

Communication – This is the key to effective teamwork, and the heart of the framework and the game. Where are you at, what are you going to do next and what is stopping you? The daily scrum is critical to keep the team focussed, in the same way the calls in the scrum keep the forwards working as unit.

Crouch – Touch – Pause – ENGAGE!