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Creating a Self-Organizing Team

19 September 2016

One of the fundamental aspects of Agile is the self-organizing team. How does it differ from a Waterfall team? The concepts of developing working software, ensuring incremental delivery, and failing early, etc., all support the main idea of self-organizing teams. The product owner (PO), as part of the team, must understand the development team's point of view to realize the benefits of Agile.

Steps to create a self-organizing team

Change the terminology

ScrumMaster is the wrong term to use to describe the role. Perhaps Scrum Organizer, Scrum Facilitator, or Scrum Coordinator.

After looking up the word "master" on The Free Dictionary, the definition clearly contradicts the intended meaning and underlying philosophy of the ScrumMaster role.

ScrumMasters take ownership; they take responsibility; they deliver. They are facilitators and helpers who remove impediments.

Use the Daily Scrum to foster the self-organizing culture

Daily Scrum calls are the best tools to create and propagate the philosophy of a self-organizing structure. In Waterfall or any other model for project delivery, project managers schedule and attend the calls, and they also babysit. So begin training and mentoring the Scrum Team to take turns in conducting the Daily Scrum calls. Discuss the impediments internally. If the team cannot resolve them internally, then approach the ScrumMaster to facilitate a resolution.

Let the delivery team drive various ceremonies

The Scrum "Coordinator" can be the observer at the ceremonies. If any team member is not actively talking or contributing, talk to him or her in person and understand their perspective. Motivate them to participate in the calls.

Motivate the team during the sprint review

Ask team members to demonstrate the incremental software. This will motivate them more than anything else.

Hold individual sprint retrospectives

Occasionally, conduct individual members' retrospectives. This is not a formal ceremony, but it's needed to freely express issues to the team members, PO, or their own managers.

Let every team member, including the PO, say a few words about why velocity was or was not achieved and their recommendation or action plan to improve it.

Soft skills are essential in cultivating the self-organizing philosophy. The Scrum "Organizer" needs management's blessings to gain the benefits of Agile.

Opinions represent those of the author and not of Scrum Alliance. The sharing of member-contributed content on this site does not imply endorsement of specific Scrum methods or practices beyond those taught by Scrum Alliance Certified Trainers and Coaches.

Article Rating

Current rating: 3.7 (6 ratings)


Gowri Goli, CSM, 9/25/2016 9:18:21 AM
I do talk to lot of scrum masters and I realize how difficult it is to become Agile, example

1) One Scrum Master in Daily scrum calls asks one by one by name and they respond with their answers (What they did, what they will do, what issues they have etc).

2) One scrum master said, if any one says Agile methodology, he thinks they are not talking agile

soo on.

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