When a company is in the midst of an Agile transformation, there inevitably comes a time when a good number of the people in the organization start wondering what their role is. This is natural and expected. After all, the ScrumMaster, Product Owner, and Development team concept is a departure from the functionally specialized format many companies are familiar with. Layer on top of that concepts like role blending and T-shaped people, and we have a recipe for role confusion.
An Agile transformation involves many things, but one of the core concepts is the idea of the small, stable, cross-functional, self-organized team. That’s a mouthful – let’s break it down:
- Agile teams are small. No more than nine people. The smaller, the better.
- Agile teams are stable. Team membership isn’t changing every time a new project is approved.
- Agile teams are cross-functional. They contain the skills and authority to get the next best idea into production without outside help.
- Agile teams are self-organized. Leadership on a team is organic and changes situationally. It’s not bestowed.
This team delivers value to production on a very frequent basis, doing what it knows it must from day to day to make that happen. If being a developer today is the best approach to get you to your goal, then be a developer. Maybe tomorrow you’ll have to be a designer or a tester. You might need to pair with another team member to play project manager for a couple of days to deal with complications in completing tasks.
There are a couple of distinctions that have to be called out here:
- Project management is not an individual responsibility on an agile team. Large units of work are broken down into pieces that are small enough that the team can manage the work on their own.
- Hierarchy is not present in an agile team. Hierarchy may exist in the organization at large, but within the team, everyone is a peer. More importantly, team members place primary allegiance to their team, not their reporting structure.
So what’s your role? Be a good team member.
Easier said than done, I know. Next week we’ll take a look at why it can be so difficult to get into the team-based mindset, and we’ll finish the series with a few solutions.