Pragmatic Agile Weblog

Agile software development in real life

Self organizing team or monster???

As you may know we recently acquired an Ukrainian company; they were mainly developers (in a wide – or agile if you want – sense) so they joined my team. Since they had all the competencies to release a software product, the most natural choice for me was to organize them in their own scrum team. In the past we have been working with teams neither fully collocated nor fully remote, and we have been experiencing the pain of such situation. Therefore, I wanted to avoid it at all costs. Also, their competencies where more focused on the client side of our product, which looked to me another good reason to keep them together in a remote scrum team.
Since this is not what I want to talk about in this post, I’ll make the long story short. The organization above shown some issues that the teams perceived as a big impediment to them because the remote team could not reliably commit on client-side user stories until the server side-stories, developed by another scrum team, were done.

To come to the topic, by chance, the other day I heard my development manager and the scrum master discussing about how the teams wanted to solve the problem: mix the server and client teams so that they both had who can work on the back-end and who can work on the front-end. Unfortunately, this also means to make both teams again partially collocated and partially remote. This reminded me with terror the past times and our previous bloody experience with such teams. I therefore started to question the decision and remarking my strong opinions, probably also making quite evident my opposition to the decision.

At that point, Edo (the scrum master) candidly asked:

“Stefano, do you want the teams to self organize or do you want to make the decisions on their behalf?”

He left me speechless and weaponless…
I do not want to be fake-modest here… being a founder and the CTO of Funambol, I know I am an heavy presence… I interviewed everybody in the engineering team and no one takes me lightly (or at least I hope – if you are new to Funambol you are warned now 🙂 ). Still, that was I had to hear… 😐

I hated him with all my forces. But at the same time I loved him with all my heart. I mean… what could have made me more happy having embraced agile? The teams are the ones at the front line. They fight every single day. They know their problems and they want to fix them. What must be here my role? Tell them I know more then what they know looking around from my desk? Or give them all support they need to remove the impediments they have found out?

Guys, that’s the way I want you. Put your balls (wherever you have them) on the table and tell me I am wrong; show me I am fucking wrong!

If I have created a self organized team or a monster, only the time will tell. For now it is good to know I can go on vacation tomorrow for 6 months and no one will ever notice it! It is a great feeling. A feeling of achievement of at least a milestone. It is time for a new tattoo!

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March 28, 2010 - Posted by | Agile, Funambol

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