We near the end of the focus on the agile principles with a bold statement. The idea of self-organizing teams producing the best results is a strong position. They are not merely better; they make the best products. I tend to agree with this statement. However, it is worth defending as it is not apparent.
The Value of Buy-In
First and foremost, self-organizing teams impart to each member a level of ownership. They are given the freedom and responsibility to “get the job done.” This structure implies that the members are trusted to find the best way to solve a problem and provide their input. It is not different from the “employee empowerment” idea used in other areas of business. Software is like anything else we build. The people that feel they have been instrumental in the plan will feel a sense of ownership of the solution. Therefore, they have a sense of investment and a natural desire for it to succeed.
Self-Organizing Team Create A Best Fit
Every member of a team has a unique mix of skills and experience. This rule applies to any team and any environment. Thus, traditional roles and labels are somewhat limiting. The idea of being a “programmer,” for example, may fail to utilize a member’s testing skills or design experience. When you drop the labels and roles form a team, they are allowed to apply skills where they are needed. This approach opens the team up to the most efficient way to combine in solving a problem. That path is where we find the best results.
An Underestimation Problem
One can look at a broad range of areas where a leader drives the team to conform to a system or plan. This approach fits the team into the system rather than the system to the team. When you step back and think about that dynamic, it is logical to have the team define the solution. Any other approach essentially tells the team they do not know how to best use their skills. This method can be demoralizing and reduce the sense of ownership. In the sports world, the results of this method can be seen when a coach is fired, and a team “suddenly” performs much better.