Adding VAR to software development

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In Sweden there is a debate of the Video Assisting Referee (VAR) in football. A system overruling/supporting referee decision. VAR will probably be reality next season, but for now our football referees is taking the heat for their bad decisions or lack thereof. This has now been taken to its extreme in the last rounds of Allsvenskan, our top league. A lot of doubtful decisions has been debated by football experts in the media and the one thing these experts have in common is that no one of them can say with 100% certainty that the debated situation should be judged on a certain way. I understand the experts as the rulebook has been transformed over the years from the start when no rules other than tools and weapons were not allowed, until now when every possible situation is covered including what color underwear can have. The referees must take a fast decision and with no situation like another, it adds to the complexity together with the social debt built up by previous decisions in favor of a team. The spectators roar, or not, and what about the stupid thing the player said about my favorite artist a couple of days ago, is this not enough for a retroactive yellow card at least? A red card in the first minute is less politically correct than for the same incident in minute 89. And what is the exact angle for an arm to be considered being in a natural situation or not when the ball touches the arm. For now, it is chaos and regardless of who will be the winner of the league, the runner ups will claim that the winners got favorized by the referees – the bad guys. But if you just stick hard to the rulebook you will not be blamed for your lack of experience from football and the complexity that will impact your decisions. These were the days when football was the language everybody understood. Now you need to be a FIFA referee.

In software development it is the same thing going on but here we call the rulebook Scaled Agile Framwork (SAFe) and the referees is called Certified SAFe consultants. The software development rulebook from 2001 started with the four values of agile, and has now been transformed (I will not use the word developed) to this extensive ruleboook, or what they say is only a framework. SAFe is in some parts good stuff and its priests say it should be applied with common sense and so far, is all well. But in the same time, the priests sell expensive trainings with certification and out from these trainings comes a lot of people with little or none background from software development. One day you work as a scrum master and the next day you have become a Senior Certified SAFe Release Train Engineer. But if you just stick hard to SAFe you will not be blamed for your lack of experience from software development and the complexity that will impact your plan. These were the days when software development was a team sport and you had the whole picture. Now you need to have a SAFe certification.

The football rulebook has 17 rules plus one not written called rule #18, This rule applies if the others are not in scope for the situation and it is called common sense. But the framework/rulebook has become the problem and not the solution as only a few can apply it with common sense. My suggestion is to roll back the rulebook/framework to a good enough slim version and apply common sense. Or VAR.

/Ove Holmberg, ex football referee and SAFe certified agilist.

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