AoAD2 Chapter: Ownership (introduction)

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

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Revised: July 20, 2021


Top-notch execution lies in getting the details right, and no one understands the details better than the people who actually do the work. [Poppendieck and Poppendieck 2003]

Lean Software Development: An Agile Toolkit

Agile teams own their work. They decide for themselves what to work on, how to break it into tasks, and who on the team will do it. This is due to a fundamental Agile principle: the people who are doing the work are the ones who best understand what needs to be done. They’re the ones most qualified to decide the details.

Ownership isn’t just about control, though. It’s also about responsibility. When teams take ownership of their work, they also take responsibility for getting it done.

This chapter has the practices you need to take ownership of your work and successfully get it done:

  • “Task Planning” on page XX helps your team break stories into tasks and decide how they’ll get done.

  • “Capacity” on page XX ensures your team only signs up for what they can complete.

  • “Slack” on page XX improves capacity and allows your team to make reliable short-term commitments.

  • “Stand-Up Meetings” on page XX helps your team coordinate their work.

  • “Informative Workspace” on page XX surrounds your team with useful information.

  • “Customer Examples” on page XX helps your team collaborate with experts.

  • “Done Done” on page XX focuses your team on creating software that’s ready to release.

XXX Further reading to consider:

  • Turn the Ship Around

Bill Wake reading recommendations:

  • Facilitator's Guide to Participatory Decision-Making, by Sam Kaner - or another facilitation book

  • Getting It Done: How to Lead When You're Not in Charge, by Roger Fisher and Alan Sharp

  • Quality Software Management (series), Jerry Weinberg - Not something I used day-to-day but good background

  • Maybe: The Effective Manager, by Mark Horstmann. - I haven't read his book, but I used to follow their podcasts, and attended their 2-day training years ago. It's not an agile perspective, but rather focused on managing for organizational results, with concrete advice on coaching, one-on-ones, feedback, & delegation. (You'd want to vet this - the perspective may not be a fit.)

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