As a Scrum practitioner you may have read the famous paper The New New Product Development Game published by Hirotaka Takeuchi and Ikujiro Nonaka in Jan’ 1986 issue of HBR. The paper was inspired by the game of Rugby, the way ball passed within the team as it moves as a unit up the field. The interesting part is that the word Scrum was mentioned just once in the paper and now there are so many books, articles, blogs, trainings, events, meetups developed for that one word. I don’t know much about the Rugby game but I really like the All Blacks New Zealand team’s Haka, it s a great energy booster before we start the game. Do you and your team do haka before you start your Sprint?



Somehow, I feel that the key six characteristics identified in the paper are not limited to the game of Rugby but to all team sports. I would like to use the game of Football; the beautiful game being played by maximum number of people in this world for understanding the Scrum.


Scrum is a framework, not a methodology – People may have great analogy and description for it but the way I use it is – Framework defines a boundary with some basic rules and guidelines and then leave it up to the practitioners to find out the How part. A methodology is more prescriptive and get into the implementation details of it. 

Think about the game of Football – FIFA has defined the boundary within which the game can be played with some basic rules w.r.t number of players, not more than one goal keeper, half timings with break, you can’t touch the ball with your hand etc. However, the rules don’t talk about How a team can score goal, it is up to the players to decide. Each team has its own game style and team formation (e.g. 4-4-2, 3-4-3), be it Germany, Brazil or Spain. They keep changing their team formation and game plan but they cannot cross the boundary and can’t break the rules of the game. Also, Football rules doesn’t prescribe that you have to pass the ball from back to line and then to centre for scoring a goal. There are multiple permutation combination using which a team can win, the rules of Football remain same for all teams however there are teams who are at #1 and there are teams who are at #100, it depends on the players, their skill set and the team environment.




Same is applicable for Scrum – it’s up to the teams to decide How they want to play the game without breaking the rules. Scrum doesn’t prescribe about how to do different events. It talks about What and Why and leave the How part to its players. Looking at the available skill set, the team members inspect their progress and adapt their plan towards achieving the Sprint Goal.

The rules of Scrum remain same for every team/organization, still there are few who are successful with it while others are still struggling. It all depends on the players, their skill set, the environment they are in, and the practices they follow.


Some of the Scrum rules doesn’t work for us so we have changed them to suit our Organization – Perfect, no issue. We have 40 members in our society, and we all want to play Football, but the rule says maximum 11 players in a team, so we have changed the rule and plays with 20 members each side. Also, we don’t want to stop the game if someone touches the ball with his/her hand.

Yeah, go ahead.

You can still play but it will not be called as The Football, it may be just your society’s football.

Similarly, if you want to break Scrum rules, go ahead, there is no one who will stop you. Do remember that it will not be called as The Scrum, it may be just your team’s or your organization’s Scrum to which other people may not be able to relate. Be aware that as a team/organization, you may or may not get the expected benefits of Scrum implementation.


Can we have more than One goal in a Sprint – Yeah, sure. You and your team members are playing the game of Football and there are six goal posts on the ground. What do you think will happen to your team’s focus? They will be confused; your players may start behaving like as a sub-team within the main team for targeting the nearest goal post to them? There may not remain as One team at all.



Having One Sprint goal gives your Scrum team – focus, vision, and reason for doing the Sprint. Everyone is committed towards achieving the common Sprint goal not their individual or sub-team’s goal.

BTW does your team celebrate when they achieve their Sprint Goal the way a Football team after scoring a goal?


Why the Daily Scrum is only for the Development Team? The team management, coaches, trainers, physio have enough opportunity to train, coach and nurture team members before the game starts. However, once the team is on the ground, referee blows the start whistle, no one else can enter the field. It’s up to the players to decide how to play the game, score goals and win the match.


daily scrum


Similarly, its Development Team’s playing field and during the Daily Scrum they review their progress, plan their next attack on solving the problems, achieving the Sprint goal and win the game. Coach, trainer, or management is not allowed on Development Team’s playing field.


I hope reading this blog was worth of your time, please do share your feedback for improving it further.

Please do share what analogy do you use for explaining Scrum and its elements to your team and organization.


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