A critical component of any Agile project is the concept of the self-organizing team. If you’ve wanted to know what a self-organizing team is and how management can create an environment that facilitates the collaborative nature of self-organizing teams, this section of the Introduction to Agile Development class is for you.
First, I compare the structural differences between traditional and Agile teams. In May 2011, I wrote a bit about how these structural changes can impact veteran project managers significantly. See "No One Gets Left Behind on Agile Projects, Not Even The Veteran Project Manager" for more information.
After discussing the structural changes, we turn to more logistical items, such as workspace design. I firmly believe that software development is a team sport, so maximizing communication is paramount to team success. In class, I show several examples of real world open environments. Then we discuss the types of environments students work in now; as well as, environments they have previously worked in. A lively discussion usually ensues.
Students then learn about the Satir Change Model and how organizational behavior can interfere with a team’s ability to learn and internalize self-organizing behavior quickly. For example, in my experience with large organizations, overextending team members often acts as an impediment to self-organization. Many large organizations have an accepted practice of assigning team members to three or more projects with a paper utilization rate of close or equal to 100%. Students learn how the cost of task switching and over-allocation adversely impacts team moral, performance, and learning.
The section concludes with Boris Gloger’s "Ball-Point Game", which reinforces self-organizing concepts. Pictured below is one of my classes playing the game, which enhances learning while allowing them to have fun at the same time!