What does SCRUM have in common with rugby?

Let’s start with collaborative, iterative, and user-focused agile methodology which is a modern software development process that encourages flexibility. Agile consists of many frameworks and one of the most popular ones is called Scrum. You might have asked yourself “How can I predict something that I don’t know? Well, maybe it could be good to do a little bit of work and to inspect it and adapt... – so-called empiricism - the heart of SCRUM. But speaking in accordance with the Scrum guide what exactly SCRUM is? Namely, it is a framework that helps teams break down large, complex projects into smaller production goals that can be quickly delivered to stakeholders. SCRUM allows developers and stakeholders to share continuous feedback, and to course-correct while changes are still easy to implement. The three words that can refer to SCRUM are empiricism, self-organization, and continuous improvement. You should always try to get better. SCRUM is about being adaptable to the processes that work best for the team and organization.

The authors of “The New Product Development Game” suggested that teams needed to adopt a holistic, rugby-like approach where the teamwork together as a unit “passing the ball back and forth” to reach a goal.1)

Exhibit 1: The New Product Development Game, HBR

The above-mentioned exhibit illustrates the difference between the traditional, waterfall approach to product development and the rugby approach. In the second one, the product development process emerges from the constant interaction of a self-organizing, multidisciplinary team. Rather than moving in defined, highly structured phases, the process is developed of the team members’ interplay. For instance, a group of engineers may start to design the product before all the results of the feasibility tests are in. Or the team may reconsider a decision as a result of later information. The team does not stop then but engages in iterative experimentation.

The word “team” was used repeatedly but what roles actually make up a team in SCRUM? Let’s start with a Product Owner who is responsible for prioritizing items on product backlogs. Then we have a team composed of three to nine experts with a variety of skills, the so-called Development Team. Tasked with creating the product, they are empowered to self-organize and manage their own work. Finally, the role of Scrum Master (or team facilitator/servant-master) who is responsible for facilitating communication amongst the product owner, development team, and stakeholders. All three roles together create a SCRUM TEAM.

Thinking about SCRUM we cannot forget about SCRUM events. A sprint is timeboxed, which means that once a sprint starts, its deadline does not change. A sprint lasts between one week to one month. A sprint planning is a session when the entire Scrum team comes together and discusses what they can complete during one sprint by understanding the project’s requirements— called user stories—and planning out their work. The general rule is that the session should take no more than two hours per week of sprint duration. A sprint retrospective is a meeting where the goal for a team is to communicate what went well and how they can increase quality and effectiveness in the next sprint. It is usually scheduled for up to an hour.

Today, to create innovation and a product tailored to the customer, it is not enough to have a brilliant idea. The big focus needs to be on a team, whose members will support each other, complement each other and develop their competencies. A team that will not be afraid of making attempts and learning from mistakes, because in this way it will achieve its goals based on real customer needs. Hence, the SCRUM framework is a journey worth embarking on whether we are a large corporation or a small family-owned business.

To find out more about SCRUM we highly recommend visiting our website with SCRUM courses: Scrum Framework and Agile Scrum Foundation.

Author: Magda Wojtasik

1)H. Takeuchi, I. Nonaka The New New Product Development Game, HBR