10 Traits of an Agile Self Organizing Team

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One of the key important aspects of a successful Agile setup is having a self-organizing team. This is also mentioned in the Agile manifesto:

The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organising teams

Self-organizing teams, as the name suggests, take responsibility and manage their own tasks and don’t rely on a manger to tell them what to do.

10 Traits of an Agile Self Organizing Team

Let’s see what a typical self-organizing Agile team looks like:

  • Ownership: Generally the team are a group of mature individuals which take initiatives and work for themselves and don’t wait for their leader to assign work. This ensures a greater sense of ownership and commitment.
  • Motivation: Team motivation is the key to success. Team members should be focused and interested in their work.
  • Teamwork: The team can manage their own work with regards to task allocation, task estimation, story development and testing and delivery of a successful sprint as a group. They should work as a team rather than as a group of individuals. Teamwork is encouraged.
  • Coaching: The team is left to do what they’re best at – delivery of software – but they still require some level of mentoring and coaching and facilitation by their ScrumMaster, but they don’t require “command and control.”
  • Trust and respect: Team members trust and respect each other. They believe in collective code ownership and testing and are ready to go the extra mile to help each other resolve issues.
  • Commitment: Communication and most importantly committed individuals are vital in a self-organizing Agile team. Team members communicate more with each other, and are fully committed to delivering their tasks individually and as a group. There are various Scrum ceremonies such as the daily stand-up meeting, story grooming and pairing, which encourages team discussions.
  • Collaboration: The team understands that to deliver software successfully, they should understand the requirements and aren’t afraid to ask questions to get their doubts clarified. Constant collaboration with the Product Owner is essential.
  • Competency: Individuals need to be competent for the job at hand. This will result in confidence in their work and will eliminate the need for direction from above.
  • Improvements: Continuously improving their own skills and recommend innovative ideas and improvements.
  • Continuity: A new team takes a while to mature and become self-organized. Overtime, they can understand their working habits as a team, so changing its composition every now and then doesn’t help. It is best to have the team members working together for a reasonable duration.

Creating a self-organizing team in Agile is not an easy task and takes a reasonable amount of time to form. Often, the ScrumMaster should coach and facilitate any of the above ingredients to help fast-track the formation of such self-organizing Agile teams.

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