Need for a well formed team grows!

Need for a well formed team grows!

I have suggested that Kanban is team structure neutral.  The same argument can be made for kanban-y Scrumban. However as we move down the continuum towards a scrum-y Scrumban, the argument for having a well-formed team goes from good advice to urgent instance. A well-formed team has several attributes that increase efficiency and effectiveness.  As your Scrumban implementation becomes more scrum-y these team attributes become more important:

  • Bounded,
  • Cross-functional, and
  • Self-organized and Self-managed

A well-formed team will be bounded. In bounded teams, team members belong to the team and the relationships that they develop will be “sticky.” The team membership changes slowly, which allows the individuals to build trust and develop a firm understanding of mutual capabilities. Teams that develop a boundary tend to develop improved communication and cooperation leading to efficiency and effectiveness improvements.

Cross-functional teams improve delivery using Scrumban. Cross-functional teams spend less time negotiating hand-offs and tracking down who can or should do any piece of work, thereby reducing the potential for bottlenecks. Visualizing the flow of work through the use of a Kanban board helps to identify the skills needed and a guide communication and hand-offs. When a team has all of the capabilities they need to deliver, bottlenecks are far less likely to develop and persist for any length of time.

Self-organized and self-managed teams don’t need to wait for permission to make the decisions needed to remove bottlenecks or process constraints. Kanban, and by extension Scrumban, is slightly biased toward the inclusion of line managers in the day-to-day operations of teams. This tends to cause team members to defer decisions and seek permission. As Agile values and principles are inculcated into a Scrumban implementation it becomes easier for the organization to build trust in the team’s ability to make decisions without having to ask for permission, thereby building a better team.

The more Scrumban implementations leverage the Agile focus on bounded, well-formed, self-organized and self-managed teams, the more apt the teams will be to deliver value. The need to adopt Agile team structures becomes more intense as a Scrumban implementation moves closer toward the Scrum-y end of the continuum. In the end the concepts that describe an Agile team make sense in almost any Agile or Lean scenario. However, if you are leveraging a scrum-y Scrumban the need is even stronger.