AoAD2 Chapter: Teamwork (Introduction)

Book cover for “The Art of Agile Development, Second Edition.”

Second Edition cover

This is a pre-release excerpt of The Art of Agile Development, Second Edition, to be published by O’Reilly in 2021. Visit the Second Edition home page for information about the open development process, additional excerpts, and more.

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Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done.1 [Beck et al. 2001]

1When the Agile Manifesto was written, people thought about software development in terms of projects. Today, the Agile community prefers to focus on products or capabilities instead.

The Agile Manifesto

Cross-functional, self-organizing teams are the heart of any Agile organization. They’re the fundamental “resource” of the organization. It’s a constant refrain in Agile literature:

Software development teams where everyone is alike, while comfortable, are not effective. Teams need to bring together a variety of skills, attitudes, and perspectives to see problems and pitfalls, to think of multiple ways to solve problems, and to implement the solutions. [Beck 2004]

Extreme Programming Explained

Scrum leaves the actual determination of who does what up to the team... the team is going to sink or swim together. There are no individual heroics, just team heroics. When a team member is weak, other team members have to pick up the slack. Nothing helps people do their best, despite their shortcomings, as much as group pressure and a team environment. [Schwaber and Beedle 2002]

Agile Software Development with Scrum

In a lean organization, the people who add value are the center of organizational energy. Frontline workers have process design authority and decision-making responsibility; they are the focus of resources, information, and training. [Poppendieck and Poppendieck 2003]

Lean Software Development: An Agile Toolkit

Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project.

The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation.

The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams. [Beck et al. 2001]

Excerpts from the Agile Manifesto

But who should be part of an Agile team? How do they know what to work on? What makes it possible for them to work well together?

This chapter has the practices you need to create a great Agile team.

  • The “Whole Team” practice: Create a team that has everybody needed to get their work done.

  • The “Team Room” practice: Build a space, either physical or virtual, where everyone can collaborate effectively.

  • The “Purpose” practice: Show how the team’s work supports the company’s big-picture plans.

  • The “Context” practice: Clarify the team’s relationships with stakeholders and other groups.

  • The “Alignment” practice: Establish norms that allow team members to work together without conflict.

  • The “Safety” practice: Create an environment where team members are comfortable sharing their experience and insights.

  • The “Energized Work” practice: Work in a way that the team can sustain indefinitely.

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