Thursday, March 25, 2010

Total Football and Scrum

I was looking for a good analogy to compare the lack of specialization that Scrum suggest for teams, and in my search came to memory that wonderful spectacle that Johan Cruyff and the Dutch National Football Team offered in 1974 and 1978 Football World Cups. For those of you who are not too old, that was the point in time when the 'Total Football' concept was globally introduced.

Total Football like Scrum proposes no specialization, except for the goal keeper of course, and by doing this unleashes the talent and creativity of all team members. Having no roles implies a lot of discipline and superbly physical and mental condition. Flexibility come to the team but no at no cost, the team needs to realize that switching positions on the field implies greater synchronization and responsibility.

One of the principles behind Total Football is that in theory every player can score, so why constraining all that potential? Of course chaos happens if everybody tries to score at the same time, hence the importance of discipline in self-organizing teams.

Scrum teams should run by the same venue, just think in teams with no formal roles and cross-functionality at its best. Of course chaos is there, but good chaos that foster creativity and invention. Self-discipline and team alignment are crucial though.

Following this rationale, Scrum teams with specialized team members like developers and quality engineers are in disadvantage compared to fully cross-functional ones. Further, having only four guys out of seven producing code while the rest three are testing doesn't sound like the more beneficial approach, at least not production wise. Again, unleashing everybody's potential for writing code-both product and automation code-looks more beneficial.

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