Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Agile Team Dynamics

Last night at the Agile RTP meeting we had Don Gray speak to us on Agile Team Dynamics.

The meeting was broken down to 5 teams with each team having approximately 10 people. One person was designated as the Product Owner. Each team was given a bag of supplies and an instruction sheet for the Product Owner to give requirements to the team. My team got a bag of colored paper, tape, and pipe cleaners.

We were told to construct something that was:
  • Artistic
  • Tall
  • Sturdy

We were given 20 minutes for the exercise. The picture shows what we created.
Then Don asked each of use to take some post-its and write down what we had contributed to the exercise.

I think my set was:
  • Contributed vision of "Eiffel Tower"
  • Started rolling paper into tubes
  • Worked in team of two specialists Roller + Taper to create legs
  • Asked other team to give us balloons
Then Don told us about the Kantor Four Player Model.

During the exercise, each of the team members was contributing in one or more of the four interactions. Don asked us to classify each of our contributions. I had thought most of mine fell into the "move" category. In fact, among all the participants, the vast majority of actions were classified as either move or follow. A few Bystand and almost no Oppose.

Don mentioned that in an Agile team setup the Scrum Master should be a bystander, allowing a self managing team to do most of the Mover type activities. I made the observation that a classic problem with many agile teams is that the Scrum Master (often being an old project manager) can not help but try to take over and "move" the sprint along. Don agreed and gave some war stories from his own experience on how this can be a problem.

Other comments from the audience pointed out that the team dynamics in our 20 minute exercise did not realistically compare with a real project having team members familiar with each other and with the political / cultural context of the company surrounding them.

My main take away for the night was that in any healthy development teams these four players can each contribute something of value and that all team members should accept the presence of these roles in the team dynamics.

1 comment:

  1. John, it sounds like an enjoyable session - wish I could have joined too. Thanks for sharing your writeup!