Are you playing Football by the Rules?

Are you playing Football by the Rules?

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I have to admit that I’m quite the American Football fan. Growing up in Pennsylvania, my team was the Philadelphia Eagles. If you know anything about them, you know that they have a relatively “vigorous and unrelentingly positive” fanbase.

But then years ago, I moved to the New York tri-state area and became a fan of the NY Giants. I root for those two teams during the season unless they’re playing each other, then I root for the Eagles.

But let’s move it along a bit…

While there is heated play on the football field, I don’t see a whole lot of debate whether one team is playing football or not. The rules are fairly clear and the teams are expected to adhere to them.

For example, 4 – 15-minute quarters, or no tackling with the crown of your helmet, or touchdowns are worth 7 points and occur when you cross the goal line.

The rules are intended to frame the game so that everyone is playing within a rudimentary and relatively simple set of constraints.

What’s truly important seems to be—winning the game. And, from a coaching perspective, that involves the following:

  • Finding good people with the appropriate skill levels

  • Forming an identity, establishing an offensive and defensive strategy (identity)

  • Giving them the opportunity to form and operate as a team

  • Practice, practice, practice; learning from the videos and continuous improvement

  • Get out of the team’s way and let them play the game…

  • Rinse & repeat.

Perhaps a little time is spent on the rules, but the critical thing is finding and developing a shared vision and focusing on the goal—winning games.

Not answering the question—are you doing & playing football or not?

There seems to be an ongoing debate in the agile community around Scrum. That is, are you doing Scrum or not?

As an example, I saw this post from Martin Hinshelwood on LinkedIn where he makes the definitive point—

The minimum bar

for Scrum is a

working usable

increment every


including the first.

And Martin should know since he’s been a PST (trainer) with for the past 12+ years.

But it made me think…

Is the point of agile, business agility, agile mindsets, the agile manifesto, principles, delivering customer value, lean thinking…

  • Doing Scrum?

  • Delivering a working, usable increment every iteration?

  • Explicitly following the rules as dictated by “experts”?

Or is it something else entirely?

And should influencers, experts, and pundits like Martin be focusing on the rules…or something else?

Just to be clear, I’m not arguing with Martin. He’s certainly more experienced in “Scrum” than I am.

And I “get” his point about delivering “working software”. Heck, it’s principle #3 in the Agile Manifesto, so essential and relevant. But they didn’t say every iteration in the Manifesto. Instead, they said frequently.

But should THAT be the focus? Following the rules? Doing Scrum?

I think not. As in football, I believe it’s about setting the table to—Win the Game!

And that isn’t necessarily about Scrum or certification letters or continuously advocating to do Scrum by the book. We must leave these endless debates and positional statements behind us and focus on the game and the results.

Stay agile my friends,


BTW: I do apologize for the “football” metaphor. I realize it isn’t very clear globally, but perhaps useful as well…

And I thought I’d share some additional examples of rules over the primary goal.

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