The terms ‘long-lived team’, ‘stable team’ or to a lesser extent ‘capability’ can evoke an almost magical reaction. The problem with a magical reaction is that it switches off our ability to think about the consequences of the attributes and assumptions that need to be true for these types of the team to function effectively.  When any concept takes on a magical aura, conflict and disaster follow.  Long-lived teams sometimes don’t always make sense in every situation. (more…)

Not Exactly A Capability Team, But Close!

One of the holy grails of Agile in software development and other business scenarios is how to organize so that stable teams are efficient, effective and safe. The great preponderance of organizations use some variant of an organizational model that groups people by specialty and then allocate them to project teams.  This creates a matrix in which any practitioner will be part of two or more teams, which, in turn, means they have two or more managers and serve two or more masters.  People, like desks, chairs, and laptops, flow to the area of need, disband, and then return to a waiting pool until needed again.  One of the basic assumptions is that, within some limits, people are fungible and can be exchanged with relative impunity.  This approach has problems.  Ariana Racz, Senior Quality Assurance Analyst, provided a great summary of what is wrong with the idea that people are fungible in her response to Get Rid of Dynamic Teams: The Teams.  Ariana stated, “A resource on paper is not a resource in application.” In most circumstances, dynamic/matrixed teams reduce the productivity of knowledge workers. (more…)