Communications and the scrum

Analogies particularly accompanied by diagrams are a useful way to get a message across. For example change communications is often compared to a journey; where we have come from, where we are now, where we want to get to (and why) including how we are going to deal with potential roadblocks along the way.  It’s not perfect but it’s a fairly standard format that people can relate to.  This ‘train’ of thought leads to wondering what analogies your organisation might use to get over the corporate message, are you even aware of them?

Here’s another, crisis communications is often compared to a media scrum, fairly topical with the six nations tournament just around the corner.  The analogy is that after a foul, in communications terms that relates to an event or crisis, the media gather around and press in on the spokesperson, which equates to the two teams coming together to win the ball.  Expanding that a bit further the scrum process could also be compared to writing any corporate material.  For the non rugby folks the referee usually gives the instructions; crouch, touch pause, engage.

Crouch Each team locks together and crouches. A writers posture when they have spent too much time bent over their computer.
Touch The front row of each side reaches out and touches the opposite side. The writer shares the proposed communication with management to ‘touch’ base and check clarity.
Pause The briefest momentary pause before final action. A final proof read and check of detail.
Engage The two sides come together. Click send or publish and wait for response – your comments duly awaited,

Do you have a favourite analogy to explain a process or idea? and does anyone know where the media scrum analogy actually originated?

This entry was posted in Communications Culture, Crisis Communications, Internal Communications, Marketing Communications, stakeholder relations and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Communications and the scrum

  1. Hamish says:

    Och, apparently analogies, metaphors and imagery are dead powerful. But I dont think it works for ma wee brain.

  2. black flatfoot says:

    Dear Hamish

    I think the whole point is that analogical thinking does work, but sometimes insiduously. Even your use of language in your email is highly evocative in itself and conjures up images that help the communication process. Clearly from your perspective this is happening without you realising, thus suggesting that you have well developed cognitive abilities and is manifest, eg through your intuitive abilities. Your brain is perhaps a tiny bit bigger than you give it credit for !

  3. judge jon says:

    Scrum eh. What about the punches thrown after engage have you got something for that?

    I know a Doctor who likes to use the analogy of limescale blocking up pipes to describe fat deposits in arteries, he’s probably not the only one.

    • Anne says:

      Thanks for the comment. Continuing the theme an analogy could be made between the referee and a professional body like the Chartered Institute of Public Relations both positioned to oversee professional conduct.

      I have also come across the blocked pipe/artery analogy.

  4. Melanie Thompson says:

    I think Analogies are really good for teaching ideas; they can really help people to understand new concepts. I see that they are also useful with processes, like the communication scrum example but I dont think I have seen them used like this before.


  5. I think references to a ‘web’ of communication are a bit of a false analogy. A web implies that information is shared in a uniform way, with each of us having similar influence. In reality, although we all have a similar ability to communicate I suspect that many of us still respect and follow specific opinion leaders and only pass on their views to a specific few. Perhaps more of a Gladwell-type or two-step flow model than a ‘web’.

    • Anne says:

      Thanks Tom
      I would agree. I can appreciate the spider web analogy to portray a network of interlinked comms but it implies a uniform communication process, to spread a message, which is not the case. As you say it does not reflect Gladwell’s one to many or the two step flow model any more than the ‘ripple in the pond’.

      • black flatfoot says:

        I would say that models are exactly that-imperfect representations that have their uses when used appropriately. Even Gladwell admits to the “power of context”. Thus the spider model whilst simple may also work if modified appropriately, so eg why not change the length of the links in the web or break some to make it less “uniform” and therefore more relevant to your circumstances .

  6. Anne says:

    Dear bf
    It’s a good argument and perfectly demonstrates the value of abstract thinking (broken imperfect web) compared to literal thinking (perfectly formed web) in considering the relevance of a model or analogy to use.

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