Agile Practitioner Perspective on India Versus England ICC Men CWC 2019

India lost to England, in it’s 7th league match of cricket world cup 2019. Cricket pundits were baffled by India’s approach to this run chase, Indian cricket fans booed MSD and Kedar for not showing intent to score and felt they were robbed as they paid for ticket to watch a competitive cricket and on west side of India people prayed for India’s win because of their team’s interest, that quickly turned into saying “Match was fixed” or Indian team is afraid to face Pakistan in Semi-finals.

The reactions were very vivid to this loss and questions were raised on individual’s and team’s intent, commitment, focus, transparency and most importantly the cricket fan’s emotions involved in it and that’s what I feel the real value attached to this game.

In agile world, the terms like Focus, Commitment, Transparency, Intent and Value come across very often. The agile practitioners and teams live their life based on these terms and lacking in any of these raises question on performance and commitment.

This match was a great learning as an agile practitioner and consultant. I will use scrum and it’s ceremonies to co-relate with this cricket match and before I list down the learnings, let’s first set the context in scrum terminology to understand the co-relation.

Scope was known: 338 runs in 50 overs. Generally scope keeps evolving and emerging as agile teams create solutions. Size of the scrum team: 11(Indian Team). 5 sprints of 10 overs each. Sprint goal for each sprint was to score 68 runs. Since scope and capacity was known, velocity was easy to calculate by team i.e. 68 to achieve the target / solution. Scope did not get revised because of good weather hence no DRS came into play and team had not to adjust. The roles were clear to every team member and they knew what to do in what situation. Having known all these, team was not able deliver and customers (cricket fans) were not happy with the team’s performance. What team did wrong here that it lost this match or in IT delivery context, not able to deliver product or solution?

  1. Sprint 1: (1-10 Overs) – Team scored 28 runs (velocity). Team knew the sprint goal, still they did not tried to score and may be were over confident that they will make it up in later sprints. This happens with most of the agile teams. Teams are not able to take care of their technical debt early in the sprints and hence under perform in entire delivery life cycle and this keeps building up until the entire solution fails.
  2. Dependency on few highly performing individuals: Team India heavily relied on Sharma and Kohli. Once they got out, there is no way Team India would have won that match. Agile teams should be cross-functional, too much dependency on individuals hamper team’s velocity and hence performance.
  3. Experience (Dhoni) and Youth Energy (Pant and Pandaya) to compliment each other: This matters a lot in agile teams, there should always be a mix of experience and young professionals in team and they should compliment and help each other in delivering right solution to customer and that’s what team India missed by promoting both young players in this match ahead of experienced players.
  4. Too much to complete and fulfill expectations in last sprint (41-50 overs): When agile teams do not maintain velocity and let the impediments keep flowing in, they are making sure team’s failure and that’s what happened with team India at last.

There are lot of learnings from this match in relation to agile. Individual (Dhoni) should not be blamed for this loss, it was team’s failure. Team should explicitly tell to product owner, what they can deliver and what they cannot. Setting the expectations right after each sprint is also necessary, so that customer do not boo the team and feel robbed. Team should go into retrospective session and find out the reasons of failure and take corrective measures in delivery of next product or solution. Team should reach out to coach and discuss the challenges on part of execution, strategy, team structure and formation, self-organization, dependencies, tools, people and process and get them resolved with help of senior management for delivering right solution aligned to customer expectations.

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Published by Raveesh Mishra

Transforming organisation's excellence through agile and DevOps practices, Business solutions, IT delivery management, Programme management and Quality Management.

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