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The Volley: An Analysis Of What Makes An Agile Project, Agile


When I imagine a conventional and traditional waterfall project, I tend to see the process like table tennis. With table tennis, each shot is one person to another, but your paddle is larger, more contributions, more at stake. This is a finished project is the ball, and it is volleyed from conceptualisation through to the final sale and successful production


Imagine it. You’re in a dimly lit room, stood at a thigh-height table, a low net in the middle. Across from you is a figure, dressed in a suit. You cannot see their face. They have a paddle in hand too. They serve the ball. This is the initial contact, setting out parameters, signing contracts, discussing expenses. You return the ball with ease. All is well. Your project begins.


When I imagine agile workplaces, I think of Foosball, there are more contributors, more places on both sides where the ball can ricochet from. Feedback. You have more chances to get the ball to the other side of the miniature football pitch because there are more bodies. It’s a unified front.


A table tennis paddle is larger than the small players on a foosball table, but, if either you, or the shadowy figure across from you misses, you’ve missed the mark, either from them, or for you, and you lose the point. It a longer process to acquire another point, because of the power of the volley. There’s patience in racket or racket-like sports, a game of chicken between you and your opponent, waiting to see who is willing to gamble, and risk a shortfall. To smash in table tennis, like full-court tennis or badminton, leaves room for a quick rebuttal witch equal force, upwards in a short flicking motion. If every single hit in a volley is the process of having a project rejected due to one issue or another, then, it simply draws out the process.


Meanwhile, an agile project, likened to foosball, unlike table tennis, can have multiple players playing against opponents, as well as all of the miniature players, united by both the rod they’re mounted on, but also the common goal of scoring a point. Each and every member of “Mini-Chelsea” can send the ball into “Mini-Arsenal”’s goal. This is feedback, more parties involved in the process, the ball moving faster and points being scored quickly.


I can imagine a two-inch tall commentator sat in a box offside, shouting as the volley between the members of each of these miniature teams commences in the foosball table, declaring where the ball goes, who strikes it, and how it ends up in the goal. What is a table tennis commentator to say in comparison, from “company to client, back to company, back to client”?


Surely you can see why scrums, and subsequent agile practice can be like foosball?


If you are interested in implementing agile practice at your workplace, you can email Arvind at the following address to book a consultation: arvind@theagileworks.com

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