Why a Basketball Team is a Scrum Team

Welcome to my world of March Madness. I’m happily up to my eyebrows in brackets and game times. Go Lady Huskies!

Do I really think a winning basketball team is like a Scrum Team?

Sure do. Here’s why…

Head Coach is the Scrum Master. They remove obstacles, shield teams from outside interference, call several Sprint Reviews during the game, keep the team on a sustainable pace and most certainly conduct a Retrospective at the end of the Sprint. The team respects the Head Coach.

Basketball teams are organized into a Scrum Team of five on the court, maybe a dozen more in total. Who plays is determined by changes in the game strategy. On court, the cross-functional team manages their workload but works together. Each member provides an assist whenever necessary and performs against a clear set of goals – to not foul out and to win!

Self-organization and JIT planning is what makes any good basketball team GREAT. The team sees the opponent’s game plan and performs many adopt cycles within the Sprints. They manage their own workload but not without giving the ball away to another team member better able to make the shot.

The very best teams are masters of collaboration on and off the court. Coaches, starters, bench, trainers all know what they need to do and do it. But the real masters of collaboration are the Scrum Team during their Sprint. It’s a beautiful thing to watch.

What’s different?

In sports it is total competition. Someone goes home the winner, the other is the goat. It doesn’t have to be this way in your company.

Cheers and happy trails,


5 Replies to “Why a Basketball Team is a Scrum Team”

  1. Nice correlation on the teamwork. I like it!

    In business, would it be safe to say our opponent is entropy? And our team scores velocity points in each sprint, ultimately translated into the business value of delivered features? That’s a victory, indeed.

    Way to go Karol!
    Go Lady Huskies!

  2. Entropy – a word I haven’t heard since Physics class…even though I recently worked with a PMO who majored in chaos theory, ’tis true. If entropy is the “measure of disorder” or “lack of pattern” it most certainly is our “opponent” – a distraction from Agile teams’ overarching goal => creating awesome product.

  3. I also think about winning a game versus winning the overall championship. A good friend of mine is an top-notch basketball coach and he would be OK with losing games so long as they were aligned with the overall mission which was to win the provincial championship.

    Also, it suggests everyone needs to have some core, overlapping skills. Everyone needs to be able to dribble, pass, shoot and so on.

    I also like the notion of adaptive play. While you may have an overall plan/strategy you are relying on each player to make the best decision at any point in time. And when you need to, you call a timeout … which is something like a mini-retrospective.



    1. Thanks Declan for your fine perspective. You speak of empowerment – one of the best by-products of well functioning teams, each member knows he/she can and will make decisions/lead/call a mini-retrospective as necessary. No passing the buck due to “its not my job”!

      Appreciate your thoughts, Karol

    2. Hi Declan! I concur with Karol. Your perspective really speaks well to me, too, building on Karol’s posit about the agility of B-ball teams.

      Thanks for taking the time to post your insights here. Hanging around with you always makes me feel smarter, like I’ve learned something. Coach camps. Blogs. Conferences. Someday, we’ve to got to work on a project team together. I’d really like that.

      Thanks again for taking time to share your insights with the rest of us and our followers.


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