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If you have ever visited a major tourist site you have seen tour guides shepherding groups of camera-touting tourists. It is easy to see the tour guide role as that of a leader. A typical tour guide plans the logistics of the tour, herds the tour group ensuring everyone is moving in the same direction and implements the vision of the tour planner to deliver value. The goal of our tour guide is to make sure the team begins and ends together, that no one gets lost and the goal of the tour is accomplished. The role provides administrative and tactical leadership to the tour group. But, the tour guide is not playing the role of the product owner. In Agile projects the product owner provides visionary leadership. Tactical leadership and administration, the tour guide role, is generally defused across the entire team.

The arrangement of roles is facilitated by the application by two Agile Principles. The first is the principle that directs the business and IT personnel to work together on daily basis. The second principle in play here is that of self-organizing teams. For example, one mechanism that spreads the role of tour guide across the team is the backlog prioritized by the product owner. The backlog respects the vision in bite-sized chunks that the team can then plan and execute. Another example of tactical leadership that the team drives is the standup meeting, in which the whole team acts as cat herders. So, on an Agile project, who is the tour guide that herds the team toward the product owners vision ? The answer is that role is spread across the team and that Agile techniques facilitate making sure that we start and end in the correct place.

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