Software project management and team sport

In project management, you manage a team. In sport such as basketball and football, you also manage team. Both sport and project management has similarity in managing a team of players. But in which places are project management and sport has the similarity in managing the team?

Basketball team management

Basketball is played with a team of five. The field of play is much smaller than football. There is one goal. The score for each goal made is either two or three. And it is common to see a 100 score. 
So what it has to do with project management? In small development team, with five or less member, usually you play your development with same style as basketball. In order to achieve best result, you need some strategy.
  1. Make your team flexible. They has no separation of authority, means a person has more responsibility and act as generalist than specialist. A developer can be a QA. support and publisher if needed.
  2. Each individual skill is more determining than a teamwork (does not means that teamwork is not necessary). That is why choosing a good individual is a big advantage for small team.
  3. Make the scope of goal small. A big field (scope) with 5 player (developer) will not give you much result. The play will also be boring.
  4. Score fast. It means deliver fast to get fast feedback. In a small team you do not need chain of commands and responsibility. That way you can deliver faster.

Football team management

Football is played with a team of eleven player (goalkeeper included). The field is big. There is one goal. The score range is commonly between 0 to 3.
Again, what it has to do with project management? In a big IT team with more than 8 member, you usually follow the same style with football:
  1. The team are separated into smaller team with specialized responsibility. In football, generally the team are divided into 2 in general. One for offensive, one for defensive. Specifically, it is divided into 3, one dedicated offensive (forward), one dedicated defensive (back) and other one which has multiple role (midfielder). Using this analogy, the team is better to be split into 3 smaller team, 2 dedicated and one multi role. The composition can be adjusted to meet the needs.
  2. Teamwork is decisive. It does not means an individual skill is not important, but the teamwork between each members is more decisive. The importance of communication and good chain of command determine the success rate of a project (goal).
  3. The scope of goal is big, but divide to smaller chunks. That is because the scope is big and if you do not do reviews between phases during the project, the risk is high. If you break the scope into smaller pieces and do constant reviews for each phases, then you can lower the risk.
  4. One big goal. As stated in point 3, the goal is big and hard to reach. The planning time is usually long (maybe in months) and the publishing is big. That is why a good planning, strategy, teamwork and reviews are needed to score one.


In this article we can see the similarity with the team management across the job description. You will use different style of management when faced with different team sizes, different goal scope and rules. No matter how good a style of a management is, it will never be suitable for all condition.
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