How Scaled Agile Framework Is a Lot Like Soccer
Contrary to what some may think, scaled agile framework is a lot like a game of soccer. For those of you who are scratching your head, read on to find out what these two seemingly unrelated “frameworks” have in common.
1. Both are Frameworks
Yes, there are rules to both. In soccer, you can’t pick the ball up with your hands (unless you are throwing it in). As for scaled agile framework (or SAFe), all of your iterations can’t be centered around ShipIT days and hackathons. While these days are very flexible and promote creativity, you risk not getting the product to the client in on time, let alone finishing it.
Think of it this way; no business and its values and goals are exactly alike. To compensate for this, SAFe—like NIST and ITIL—provide a set of best protocols that can be used in order to produce a product that best fits with what the client wants.
Soccer is the same way. The end goal is still the same, each team wants to get the ball in the other net. However, depending on the team, they will use different tactics to do so based on the players’ strengths and weaknesses and the way they work as a team. And, based on what team they are up against.
2. They Rely on Teamwork
Soccer relies on teamwork in order to score, which is similar to how scrum operates. On the team level, for instance, cross-functional teams collaborate to produce working systems. Much like soccer, if it was up to one member, the end product probably wouldn’t meet the client’s expectations when demoed.
Much the same way, sure, maybe one team member could dribble the ball, get past all of the opposing team members and score. But this is definitely rare and, more often than not, even then that one player didn’t do it on his or her own—perhaps another player initially passed him or her the ball. Or the goalie drop kicked it.
3. It Is All About Communication
After an iteration, the team gets together to see what they did well on and what they could improve on for future iterations. The same goes for soccer, in which the team discusses strategy during half time and after the game.
Communication also happens on the field. An opposing player may try and take the ball away from the other team, in which the teammate yells out that he or she is open. His or her teammate then passes the ball to that player.
With scrum, the product owner and team chooses the user story (or stories) during the planning meeting, understanding what they need to do before the iteration is up. There are daily discussions held to make sure the team is on track. If it wasn’t for communication, progress could stagnate and/or the product falls short of what was expected. (For more info on expectations and business goals, consider load testing.)
SAFe and Soccer: Final Thoughts
Overall, yes, when we get to the tangibles, SAFe and soccer are worlds apart. Concretely speaking, SAFe is a framework used so IT can offer clients better service. Meanwhile, soccer is an athletic game people physically play—whether professionally or on a Sunday at the park.
However, when we look at the bigger picture, both SAFe and soccer are similar: both are frameworks, and rely on communication and teamwork in order to get the job done. For soccer that means scoring a goal. For SAFe, it is building a product that meets the client’s needs. What other ways is soccer and SAFe similar? Leave a comment.