Nature of Self-Organization

Scrum teams can exhibit an amazing behavior: a team of skilled individuals, in the face of a challenging problem, without management constraints, with scrum rules and a time-box in place, will rise to the occasion and work toward that problem in the most efficient way possible by organizing themselves. I have witnessed this self-organizing team quality and the emergent properties of such teams including heightened productivity and fun. But it’s a difficult thing to bottle and reproduce. We’re talking about team dynamics, people and personalities, management and environment issues that all contribute to or detract from this effect. Can a set of conditions be standardized that always lead to team self-organization?

Interestingly, as I recently learned from Mike Beedle, the concept of self-organization in Scrum can be described by the chaos/complexity theory phenomenon of self-organization. I feel a paper coming on… stay tuned.

Victor Szalvay

Victor Szalvay currently leads product development for CollabNet’s ScrumWorks® product suite. In that capacity, he works closely with customers, stakeholders, and the development teams to deliver high business value each release cycle. With more than 150,000 active users worldwide, ScrumWorks is used by more than half of the Fortune 100 and boasts the largest market share of any Agile management tool.

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