Self-organization of teams

I was recently part of a very exciting process: starting a set of new Scrum teams using self-organization in Bankdata.

It was an idea spawned back when working at Danske Bank inspired by thoughts from Bent Myllerup from agile42.

The purpose of the process was to generate teams with the right offset to become high performing. Some of the basic rules of high performing teams are trust and empowerment.

Our framework:

  • Each team should have its own dedicated business product owner
  • Each team should be able to work with as few external dependencies
  • Each team should be cross functional within their product backlog
  • Each team should be within 5-9 members (not counting scrum master and product owner)
  • Management should only intervene in the process if above guidelines seemed impossible to achieve
  • Process should be facilitated by agile coach (ie some one with no feelings involved)

Our recipe

Day 1

The team of product owners met and defined a clear purpose and vision for the new backlogs. In this case it resulted in two backlogs.

Day 2

All future team members, managers, product owners and scrum masters gathered in a big meeting room. Management presented the purpose and framework of empowerment,  product owners presented the backlogs and the agile coach facilitated the process. All team members were asked for their input on how to shape the teams Рoverall there were two paths to follow:

  • Let management set the teams
  • Let team members set the teams

Team members decided on the path: We decided to let team members set the teams by anonymous voting and meet again the following day. Everyone departed the meeting room and discussed possible pros and cons.

Day 3

The votes was presented by the agile coach. However, the guideline of each team should be cross functional was not met. We discussed in plenum how to fix this and volunteers swapped teams. The teams were set. We wrapped the session by splitting into the new teams so they could start working out the practical issues (ie office seating, tooling, code of conduct).

Lessons learned

  • Very exciting challenge as a facilitator to navigate the process
  • Bold move by management to let go of control
  • Very well reception by team members to be involved in the deciscion making
  • True feeling of empowerment

I can strongly encourage others to use this or similar involving setup for shaping teams!

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