Teams

The use of standing teams is central tool in the Agile arsenal.  However, what this means exactly seems to be a point of much discussion and has the appearance of being haphazardly applied in many organizations.  I have occasionally taken classes on team hunts after discussing the definition of team (fun class game).  On these team hunts we discovered teams that are as large as 20 – 30 people, and sometimes as small as one.  Both these extremes generate some great discussion.  Occasionally we go back later in the week to find that the teams have changed.  The general concept is that people and skills are assembled, then called teams, because all managers know that teams are “good.”

A better approach is to form the work and bring it to the team rather than forming and reforming the team.  The approach of bringing the work to the team provides a stability which allows the team time to bond, build an understanding of capabilities (perhaps even learn from each other) and foster trust.  While not all skills will get fully used in each unit of work, my observation has been that the diversity of skills helps provide more innovative results and the team provides higher levels of efficiency despite the perception of some inefficiency in utilization.