Building self-organizing teams is not a cake walk

Agile philosophy puts a lot of emphasis on self-organized teams that can build great quality products and services.  Self-organization is one of the core attributes of agile teams or if I dare to say, is at the heart of agile project management.  Self-organized teams are supposed to be self-contained and have required skills that works towards a shared vision. They don't need directions (read command and control) and can figure out on their how to best deliver results. A lot of literature can be found around self-organization.

In spite of wide knowledge and information around this topic, it would be interesting to know how many organizations have actually managed to create such teams. How many 'Spotify' case studies are around? In my opinion and experience, I think building self-organizing teams is easier said than done. While it’s a very good intent but there are lot of challenges that drags creation of such teams. For creating a mouthwatering dish, just like you will need right ingredients and in right quantity, same goes for creating a self-organized team.  Unless you have all ingredients, such as, management commitment, an individual's willingness & attitude, infrastructure and operations, supporting groups, an organization's culture, etc. in place, it is difficult to have self-organized teams that can run like a well-oiled machine.

In this session, I will share some of my experiences with such teams, their behavior pattern, how such teams can be nurtured, some successful and some not so successful attempts.


Outline/Structure of the Experience Report

  • Why it is difficult to have self-organized teams?
  • What makes or breaks them?
  • How to sustain self organized teams?


Learning Outcome

Following key takeaways can be expected:

1. Know the indicators of a self-organized teams

2. Distinguishing  characters of a self-organized and not so self organized team

3. What is role of each stakeholder in such  teams


Target Audience

Scrum Masters, Scrum teams, project managers

schedule Submitted 3 years ago

Public Feedback

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  • Anish Cheriyan
    By Anish Cheriyan  ~  3 years ago
    reply Reply

    Hi Pooja,

    Please request to add the draft version of the slide.

    Also request you to add any videos from your past presentation.


    • Pooja Wandile
      By Pooja Wandile  ~  3 years ago
      reply Reply

      One more important point: Not just an organization's culture but how a country's culture can also impact self organization

    • Pooja Wandile
      By Pooja Wandile  ~  3 years ago
      reply Reply

      One more important point: Not just an organization's culture but how a country's culture can also impact self organization

    • Pooja Wandile
      By Pooja Wandile  ~  3 years ago
      reply Reply

      HI Anish,

      Sorry for the late reply. I immediately don't have VDO presentation from my past presentation but let me try if I can get hold on to one. I had presented earlier in the same conference in 2014, may be I will check with the organisers if they recorded the session.

      While I am still working on the slides, here is the gist of what I plan to cover:

      1. Moving from T shaped skills to Pi shaped skills for building self organized teams, how we put the upskill program in place that addressed the Pi skills requirement,

      2. Moving away from an individual cubicle culture to open space culture which was unthinkabe at the start of the agile transformation journey, why people were reluctant initially for an open space culture. Though this looks like a minor thing but it was one of the game changer initiatives

      3. Creation of guilds and guardians to facilitate & nurture decision making at team level

      4. Limitations as well as reluctance of certain individulas to adopt Pi skills and hence impacting team's self organizing ability

      5. Issues in adopting servant leadership mindset because of fear of loss of control and how we slowly imbibed that culture,

      6. Handling the trouble makers in the build up towards self organized teams

      7. What role the leaders played, giving tactical decision making authority and ownership of the outcome to the teams

      8. Encouraging the culture of Team agreements so that there is more ownership and how it translated into improved actions

      Every action taken was not without resistance from across the board. This is what currently I am planning to cover, open to suggestions and feedback



  • Ellen Grove
    By Ellen Grove  ~  3 years ago
    reply Reply

    In the proposal, or possibly in the slides, I'd like to understand more about the specific experiences you will be sharing.  The proposal asks a great question, but I'd like a bit more info about the specific successes and failures you will be sharing in order to evaluate the proposal.  Thanks!


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