I have a simple idea that I believe will facilitate greater self-organization within teams: Frame the work of the team in terms of activities rather than individual roles. By focusing on activities rather than roles, it becomes more obvious how team members can contribute to the success of their team thus facilitating greater self-organization within their team. When teams focus on roles they inherently and unconsciously limit tasks to specific people whereas focusing on activity opens that task up to any team member who has some ability to contribute to the completion of that task.
In addition to working agreements, teams often benefit from having a set of shared values and a Definition of Done (DoD). It’s best if teams create these right from the start of their time together, but team values and a DoD can be created at any time. I use the following techniques when helping teams form, to engage them in a collaborative and creative process that sets them up for success - where the team truly owns the results.
It was the best of times; it was the worst of times…or so goes the famous Charles Dickens’ opening. Working with teams can feel the same way. It has moments of highs as we achieve together more than we could ever dream of achieving on our own, but also low points when we struggle as dysfunction emerges. Successfully working in teams means being able to successfully deal with dysfunction.
Recently, I had the opportunity to be part of a high-performing team, which is not something I get to do very often as an agile coach. I often work with teams, but this experience reminded me that I’m rarely on a team.