Today’s post has an Hollywood twist. This recent movie has become my Organisational reference of the behaviour that one should adopt if you want to succeed. I will attempt to simply make a parallel between what they have done and map it to Scrum.
For starters, Billy Beane is the GM for the Oakland A’s and learns that he will lose his star lineup for the next season. He finds himself frustrated and with little answer on how to solve the issue, since the goal is to win the championship.
Now, simply put, he meets a young man(Peter Brand) which he finds intriguing since he is responsible in an aborted trade between the A’s and the Indians. Billy finally learns that Brand has a system which is founded in Economics and based on that system he aborted the trade based on the numbers, which translates to Runs in baseball terms.
On to the parallel between what they have done and Scrum. I will expose the “Three legs of Scrum” Vital Communication, Transparency, Inspect and Adapt.`
- Players (Development Team)
- Billy Beane (Product Owner)
- Peter Brand (Scrum Master)
- Coach: Art Howe (Project Manager!)
- Season (Product Backlog)
- Game (Product Backlog Increment)
- Training (Sprint Backlog)
Now that we have drawn up a few equivalents, the movie goes through some interesting change management moments. The first of those moments is when Billy is confronted with his crew of recruiters, which I would like to call the waterfall approach to baseball. They had a system which was bathed in history to be the way to go about the business of baseball, but now that Billy had Brand’s new perspective, well he basically adopted Agile as a new means to conduct business. One truly great moment in the movie is when he is confronted to these people and he is told that he will fail for adopting such a new perspective and then decides to use the “You either get in or get out” attitude. That specific scene is depicting the change in culture of an organisation and sticking by its conviction that it needs to get real if it wants to be competitive.
From point, Brand’s system can be made out to be a reflection of Scrum and here is why.
- In between games, the Sprint Planning, members of the team etch out a plan to deliver a done increment (game) by going through video of previous games, therefore questioning their practices, techniques and adapting those in order to achieve a higher productivity (getting on base).
- After a game, which is basically the Sprint review, we do not celebrate undone increments. We inspect and adapt in order to be better a delivering those elements.
- Like the point above, the Retrospective is how in this great scene of the movie Billy talks to the team about how losing a game should sound like.
- People know why they are doing the things they do, because it is about getting on base. Peter Brand is there to make sure that it is well understood and facilitates all aspects of the game so that the team understands what they are asked to do.
- There is no place for superstars, it is a Team. Win or lose, the team is to blame not an individual. One great example is when Billy talks to a veteran star and tells him he is more of a burden if he keeps up with the attitude and should therefore act like a veteran, giving advice in order to improve the competence of the team.
- It is about being transparent on all aspects. Being honest about trades, performances, techniques. Great scene with Brand and a player,where Brand is asked, for the first time, to announce to a player that he is being traded.
- Change management comes also in the form of the coach being uncooperative. I see it like the project manager which does not understand his role in this new process and keep being an interruption or impediment to the teams plan.
- One great aspect of the movie, is the complete buyin of the organisation in the implementation of this process. Billy is given the green light to make the team a success. One aspect which many companies struggle with when adopting Agile practices.
I believe I could go on for a little while, but I made my point. Moneyball is one of the greatest movies about organisational change and Agility ever made. 🙂