Struggle with Self Organizing teams

By: David Hawks | Jan 13, 2010 |  Agile,  Article,  Team

Self-organizing teams - organizational chartI think getting teams to be self-organizing in a productive way is one of the toughest challenges of Scrum.

I remember early on in our adoption of Scrum when I was having trouble getting the teams to embrace a self-organizing culture. I brought in a trainer/coach and after careful observation, he told the management team the following:

“It is great that you guys are so curious and energetic about helping the teams, but you have to stop and get out of the way. You need to stop solving the problems for the team and let them start solving the problems themselves. Also, you need to find a way to motivate them to become curious about the process and for them to be energetic about figuring out how to be better.”

This was a huge moment for me in my progression on learning how to be a better Agile practitioner.

I think most good leaders got to where they are today because they are great problem solvers. Unfortunately, this gets in the way when are trying to encourage a Scrum team to become self-organizing. If we jump in and solve the problems, the natural tendency for the team is to let us do it (especially if we are their managers). This is the part where you have to give the team some rope and let them struggle through some of their own mistakes. This is painful to watch when you are probably confident you know a solution. You must find a way to facilitate the team through the problem without solving it for them.

Further Reading:
The Role of Leaders on a Self-Organizing Team | Mike Cohn’s
Blog – Succeeding With Agile�

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