Agile Team Operations Philosophy - dummies

By Mark C. Layton

An agile development team operates differently from a team using a more traditional approach. Development team members must change their roles based on each day’s priorities, organize themselves, and think about projects in a whole new way to achieve their commitments.

To be part of a successful agile project, development teams need specific qualities:

  • Cross-functionality: The willingness and ability to work on different types of tasks to create the product. On traditional projects, experienced team members are often typecast as having a single skill. But an agile approach brings the people who create products together into a cohesive group — the development team. Development team members may start a project with one skill, but throughout the project, learn to perform many different jobs to help create the product.

    Cross-functionality makes development teams more efficient and prevents project delays when one team member is missing — another team member can fill in.

  • Self-organization: The ability and responsibility to determine how to go about the work of product development. Agile techniques emphasize self-organizing development teams to take advantage of development team members’ varied knowledge and experience. Self-organized teams are not complying with orders from others; they own the solution developed and that makes a huge difference in team member engagement and solution quality.

  • Self-management: The ability and responsibility to keep work on track. Agile development teams have lot of control over how they work; with that control comes the responsibility for ensuring the project is successful.

  • Size-limited teams: Ideally, agile development teams have seven people, plus or minus two people. The team is small intentionally. For one thing, a small development team is a nimble team. And, as a team grows in size, the overhead associated with orchestrating task flow and communication flow grows as well. A small team encourages members to develop diverse skills and good team communication.

  • Mature behavior: Take initiative for work and responsibility for results. Being part of a cross-functional, self-organized, self-managing development team requires responsibility and maturity. No top-down management means team members can take initiative for meeting team goals and can experience success and overcome setbacks as a group.