WHO

All individuals in the organisation.

WHAT

‘Agile teams’ describes a team configuration that brings people together and has the necessary skills to service a specific customer requirement (internal or external). Consequently, the teams tend to be multi-disciplinary. Each agile team is responsible and accountable for successfully servicing their customer segment, which requires the team to have a degree of authority. Other popular terms are ‘pods’ and ‘tribes’.

WHY

Agile teams minimise dependencies and enable teams to work autonomously, but aligned.

HOW

An agile team should be defined by the human skills needed for a single customer problem or product feature. A typical team should be 5-10 team members, what Jeff Bezos calls a 2 Pizza size team. Agile teams should have a clear line of sight of the customer that guides their activities and purpose, including the skills needed on a team. As new customer requirements arise, that might mean upskilling the team or attracting other talents. For some agile operating models, this is managed by the ‘flow to the work‘ technique.

Another requirement is that agile teams should have authority driven progress and make decisions. In some organisations agile teams are self-managing, but most are self-organising with a team leader. Depending on the agile teams’ dependency on other teams, a number of other techniques can help to create alignment and coordinate activities e.g. guiding principles and advice process.

However, in some organisations presets or colleague-to-colleague systems are used to set delivery expectations internally between the teams. In those organisations that still operate with managers, the manager’s role should be slightly different. An agile team manager’s role is to support the team and because the teams are largely self-organising, the managers should be able to support a large volume of teams. Conceptually this is known as span of support, as opposed to span of control that is used in more bureaucratic organisations.

CASE STORIES

Amazon

Spotify

Rational Software

SOURCES

Scaling Agile @ Spotify with Tribes, Squads, Chapters & Guilds by Henrik Kniberg

The Science Behind Why Small Teams Work More Productively: Jeff Bezos’ 2 Pizza Rule by Janet Choi 

The Connected Company by Dave Gray with Thomas Vander Wal