Scrum or Maul: what is the best approach for agile teams?
jl.marechaux 060001NWA6 Visits (4443)
No, Maul is not a new framework for agile practitioners. Read a bit further and you will understand what I mean here. It may ever been easier for you if you have some knowledge about rugby (rugby is not a web framework, it is a sport!). After all, the Scrum framework took its name from the game of rugby.
As defined by the International Rugby Boad (IRB), “a scrum is formed in the field of play when eight players from each team, bound together in three rows for each team, close up with their opponents so that the heads of the front rows are interlocked. This creates a tunnel into which a scrum half throws the ball so that front row players can compete for possession by hooking the ball with either of their feet.”
Take a look at this video to understand what a scrum looks like: http
The same IRB explains that “A maul begins when a player carrying the ball is held by one or more opponents, and one or more of the ball carrier’s team mates bind on the ball carrier. A maul therefore consists, when it begins, of at least three players, all on their feet; the ball carrier and one player from each team. All the players involved must be caught in or bound to the maul and must be on their feet and moving towards a goal line.”
Again, a small video to understand mauls: http
In rugby, the primary objective it to ground the ball in the opponents' in-goal (then a "try" is scored). But there are many different techniques to achieve this goal.
At first glance, scrums and mauls may seem similar, but the major difference is regarding who holds the ball. In a scrum, there is no ball carrier and players are no authorized to handle the ball. The ball “belongs” to the whole team until the scrum is over.
The approach is different in a maul. Someone grabs the ball and (try to) keep it while others from the teams help him move toward the opponent's in-goal.
Why am I talking about scrums and mauls in rugby? Well, I was having a discussion with colleagues recently about task allocation during a Sprint. The Scrum Guide is not very clear about tasks ownership. Task allocation is not really addressed, and the self-organized team commits to complete a set of item by the end of the sprint.
Nevertheless, there is a section in the Professional Scrum Master open
If no one owns a specific task, it looks like a scrum in rugby where team members know what they have to do as a group. They move forward, they collaborate, they progress toward their common objective, but no player grabs the ball.
I have been working in distributed teams the last 5 years. My teammates are in multiples geographies, in different time zones. In such an environment, teams may find it easier to assign tasks to individuals. This is an easy way to know precisely who does what, even if your team is not always in a single project room.
With tasked assigned to team members during a sprint, the approach seems to be more the one of a maul. Someone owns a task (the ball), and everyone is helping the task owner to achieve the objective.
What about you? In your organization, in your agile projects, are you seeing more often the scrum approach (no task assigned, the team “owns” the tasks) or the maul approach (tasks are assigned, and the task owner is helped by teammates). If you had to vote and choose one approach, which one would you prefer? Which one would best support your agile team: Scrum, or Maul?