Agile team self selection Part-1

2 minute read

Excited or Anxious?

Tomorrow we will be embarking on an experiment in truly engaging and Agile management and it is causing me endless anxiety or excitement not sure yet.

We are going to give the developers the opportunity to create their own fixed teams.

Working in a shared services department of about 40 developers we are constantly battling the multiple demand channels of a billion dollar organisation.

Problems include multiple product owners, backlogs, priorities, styles and technologies. Cross-skilling is nigh on impossible as our technology stack is broad and specialised.

Historically we have compiled and disassembled sprint teams to meet demand but over time this process has become unwieldy and calls for endless management, grooming and prioritisation negotiation. Last time I checked we developers hated meetings.

Working in three week sprints always ending in a release has been fantastic and having good rhythm has been engaging and effective but having inconsistent team composition has meant any real sense of predictability has been wavered.

I also noticed over time the contributions to reduction in technical debt, build pipelines and most other engineering innovations started to lessen. You don’t need to have spent too much of your life building software to learn to appreciate the value and security of an effective build pipeline. Add to that other sensible practices like automated test coverage, performance testing and anything else that will guarantee some element of quality being built in. Somehow or for some reason having constantly evolving teams and constantly broken and reformed pairs seemed to impact the quality of our engineering.

Now I am happy to entertain the fact we have been insanely busy the past year and one can be forgiven for taking a few short cuts but we all know one day those debts must be paid or the future can get real gloomy.

Tomorrow is the big day.

As a management team we have spent months debating how and what. The plan is to put everyone in a big room and literally tell tell they cant leave until we have formed 4 new fixed teams that will work together for the foreseeable future. There will be a few rules but they will be as non-restrictive as possible. Other than the fact the teams will need to have a certain make-up.

Example Team A should = (3 web developers, 2 CRM experts, 1 QA, 1 BA, 1 Middleware)

The idea is you mull around the room pitching to your colleagues why you should be in their team or the other way round, where a group are going round the room enticing others to join their team.

Just writing this post has started to fire up the anxiety again, I mean what could go wrong??? My worst fear is someone feels left out or unloved, but I work with a pretty incredible bunch of people and I cant imagine anyone letting that happen but who knows.

Wow my dream of what being a truly self-managed agile team may be realised. Oops if this goes too well I may finally have eroded my value to the organisation and end up looking for a new role. A small price to pay.

My number one take away from YOW last year was “hey managers get out of the way!” no point buying the ticket if you see no value in the content.

Lastly thank you to Marcel van Hove for giving me the courage to take all I have toiled so hard to create in the past 3 years and throw it up in the air and see how it lands.