Research on self-organization in agile teams

Summary

Background: A central credo of agile methods is the assumption that it is not known in advance what will be required. This is assumed to be true not only with respect to the product requirements, but also with respect to the development process. Agile methods therefore require the team to "self-organize" their process; Scrum formulates this explicitly as a central idea of its approach. But self-organization is far from easy, even though most Scrum elements are designed to support it: daily standup, planning meeting, sprint, sprint review, retrospective, backlogs etc.

Objectives:
  • What obstacles make self-organization difficult?
  • How do teams cope with them and with self-organization in general?
  • What new, so far under-described phenomena arise from this coping process?
  • What are the consequences of these phenomena?

Methods: (to be added)

Results:
  • We found some general self-organization difficulties, in particular regarding the desired property of "cross-fertilization". They are described in our article OurPublications#crossfert.
  • More specifically, we found that each team member needs to find their place ("role") within the team, and any unresolved issues in this regard can (and often will) put the team's collaboration under extreme strain. (We saw a team disintegrate entirely from only such problems.) This role clarity issue is discussed in our article #roleclarity (under review).

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Topic revision: 21 Jun 2019, GesineMilde