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This excerpt is copyright 2007, 2021 by James Shore and Shane Warden. Although you are welcome to share this link, do not distribute or republish the content without James Shore’s express written permission.
The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams.
Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project.
Manifesto for Agile Software Development
Cross-functional, self-organizing teams are the fundamental “resource” of any Agile organization. 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 creates a cross-functional team with all the skills it needs.
The “Team Room” practice builds a space, either physical or virtual, where the team can collaborate effectively.
The “Safety” practice creates an environment where team members are able to share their experience and insights.
The “Purpose” practice helps team members understand how their work supports the company’s big-picture plans.
The “Context” practice clarifies your team’s stakeholders and committed resources.
The “Alignment” practice establishes norms that allow team members to work together effectively.
The “Energized Work” practice encourages working in a way your team can sustain indefinitely.
The core idea of cross-functional, self-organizing teams has been part of Agile from the beginning. Extreme Programming calls it Whole Team, a term I kept for this book. Scrum calls it “The Scrum Team.” Team Room is just as old; XP calls it “Sit Together” and the original Scrum book [Schwaber2002] talked about the importance of a team working environment.
Safety has been part of the Agile conversation for many years as well. [Beck2004] talks about it in his discussion of Whole Team. Joshua Kerievsky has “make safety a prerequisite” as a guiding principle of Modern Agile. The discussion in this book comes courtesy of guest author Gitte Klitgaard, who has extensive experience helping teams and organizations create psychological safety.
The Purpose, Context, and Alignment practices are based on Diana Larsen and Ainsley Nies’ excellent book Liftoff: Start and Sustain Successful Agile Teams [Larsen2016]. Together, they’re an example of chartering, which I first saw, in an Agile context, in Joshua Kerievsky’s “Industrial XP” (IXP) method [Kerievsky2005]. Chartering was brought to IXP by the inimitable III,1 who was also an important influence on Nies and Larsen’s work.
1III was his full name. It’s pronounced “Three.”
Energized Work is another long-standing Agile idea. The term comes from XP: the first edition of XP called it “40-Hour Week,” but revised it to the less US-centric “Energized Work” in the second edition.