Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Bees self-organize, why can't we?

There is another interesting thread on LinkedIn's Agile Alliance group. I caught up to the conversation late, so instead of adding my two cents, I just want to share the highlights here.

The Question:
In another discussion thread I saw many references to "self managing team" as being one target or goal for any Agile team.

Here are few hypothesis related to that:

True or false?
1. Teams can only become self managed if they have worked togather for long.
2. Teams (and through that companies) will never get to take advantage of their ability to be "self-managed" since the members will be transferred to different projects after they have completed their existing project.
I think the first response is the greatest, so I applaud Bob MacNeal's response:
1. False. Complete strangers are capable of self-organization. Bees do it. Humans do it too.
2. False for some teams. True for most companies. People have an amazing capacity for self-organization. Organizations habitually muck this up by layering in a mojo-killing culture of command-and-control.
Mark Ferguson:
A team that can't self-manage their own internal dynamic will fail. A manager can't micromanage each individual's interactions with other team members, although some do try!

Wayne Peacock:
Success comes only after a series of failures. Scrum or Agile is no silver bullet. The best thing about Scrum is the constant inspect and adapt cycles...

and finally, Sharan Karekatte:
Self-management is what Scrum teams do. They actually manage the user stories and tasks from the Sprint Backlog on a daily basis. They are not told 'how' to complete the work, but 'what' the Product Owner would like from the team in order to deliver the ROI and fulfill the Product Vision.

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