Self Organization Extensions

As the number of subteams within a project team increases, the organizational framework needs to be expanded from a team framework within which individuals operate to a project framework within which multiple teams operate. The basics of self-organizing teams from Chapter 3 apply to larger teams, but there are extensions to those ideas that also apply. Creating a self-organizing framework for a larger "eam entails:

• Getting the right leaders

• Aeticulatin g the work breakdown and integration strategies

• Eocou 3aging the interaction and information flow between teams

• Framing project-wide decision making

The organization, through the project manager, is responsible for staffing the project with the right people. At the team level, getting the right people means finding those with appropriate technical and beha vioral skills. At the project level, the proje ct manager works to ensure the rig hit leaders a re assigned th eanh team. As with individual team members, the project manager should have the authority to reject —ny proposed team teader.

The project management team h as ohe respons i bility to ensu re everyone undersjands the product vision Agd his or hds subteam's as signment within that overa ° v's ion. For \abg^r pre|e cts mhe subteams may mven go through a v isioning exerci se—vision box, elevator test—foe their indivi dua a p i ece o° the product. An architectural overview, component descriptions, and interface definitions can help each subteam endersjand fo th t he big picture a Ed its piece of the product.

"n add it io c to understaoding it s prodpct fesp ohs i Ia i li tie s, eac° subteam also negds to aadess tand its roi es wioh respect to otlaet subteams. For example, feature te ama need to understand how they are expected — interact wnth the architecture team| Larger projects are almost always, in some fashion, distributed projects. Obviously next-door buildings facilitate more frequent face-to-face meetings than a ChicagoBombay separation, but this does not obviate the fact that ^(^r teams face issues related to diotance, culture, and expertise. Defining subteam roles and responsibiMfies within the hub organization is ah initial ^ap in deg^g w^ distribufioa 'ssues.

As I was working with one client, a very large IT organization, several people lamented the lack of eommunicat i on—a common co mpla'nt. However, another 'ndividual saw ia different^ "We have t oo much iommumcation. "uso look at my emmi! in box each morningh' He was ngha W^t this opganization la^ed was not "commqnication," but a cultnre of collaborcCion, of .jointly wohking on iysues rather than slinging emails apd document! at each other Teams napd to figure out new and caeative ways to colla'orate. For example, teams can use the concept of traveling pairs from software development. As I've recommended elsewhere, "Every other iteration, a pair from one feature team could travel to the second site where they then pair with developers from the second team. Traveling pairs transfer knowledge about the team's features at a working level. No matter how good the architectural decomposition of a product, two distributed teams working on the same product need a certain amount of working-level conversation and collaboration" (Highsmith 2002). Exchanging people will be much more effective than exchanging paperwork.

One importeut infer-team task is managing dependen cies, a ta sk noequentle relegated so the project manager. All too often dependency management falls into the same trap that serial development does—mahagemenp by documentatio n rat—ar th an conversation. Within a team, the team members themselves manage dependencies between features. They identify dependencies in planning meetings and note th em on feature cards, suggestine alternative scheduling when they anticipate problems. They also identify dependencies during daily team integration meetings. These discussions not only identify the dependen cy, buc als o the exact aaturo of that de pendency and how to assign work to allow for it.

The same discus sions occur at t hie inter -team 'evel when feature team members (often team leads and senior engineers) get together to identify dependencies and determine how to handle them. The project manager may know about dependencies, but the team members have the detail information required to figure out how to work with them. Conversations backed up by informal notes can be effective and much quicker, even in fairly large teams, than relying on formal documentation and approval processes.

Although there are practices that create team-to-team interaction (e.g., integration meetings), there is no small set of practices that covers all the situations encountered in larger projects. Each project team is unique, and the project management team will need to experiment with interaction practices just as it does with technical ones.HI That said, there are several key practices that can help create the right kinds of relationships and interactions among various teams. In this environment the project manager's role should be to facilitate the intnractions between the teams, not the specific activitins each team uses to produce deliverables. One practice is the commitment-accountability protocol described later in this chapter. Another such practice is to establish inter-team rules of engagement and accountability. As an examiHle, Extreme Programming proponents have developed a set of rights that govern the interactions between customers and programmers.

t1] For one such practice, work-state information munugnmnnt, see (Highsmith 2000),Chuptnr 9.

Manager and Customtr Rights (a samplt)

• You have the right to an overall plan, to expect an estimate of what can be accomplished, when, and at what cost.

• You have the right to see progress in a running system, proven to work by passing repeatable tests that you specify.

Progr ammtr Rights ( a samplt)

• You have thie rig hot to ppoduc^ quality work a t aN times.

• You have the right to make and update your own estimates (Jeffries et al. 2001).

Another example would be the rules of engagement between architecture and feature teams within a project

Ptaturt Ttams

• Team s shall have input to, involvement i n, aud the right to vote on any architectura l dehision that ¡m"^^ their work.

• Teams shall have the right to assess the impact of any architectural change and adjust estimates and schedules accordingl y.

• Teams shaN eavo the right to request that the pro duct: and pooject managers review any architectural d ecision in which t he team's veto is overridden.

Architecture Ttams

• Teams shall receive prompt information about and feedback on proposed architectural plans.

• Teams shall expect prompt notification of problems that feature teams encounter in implementing Puchitectusal mecis ion s.

These rules of engagement, w hich evolve over time, guide tee integrato! oc teams within a project. Rules of engagement place a context around overall collaborative efforts and specific documents. Without rules of engagement, teams wili be constantly d raggm g the project manager into decisions that they should work out among themselves.

Part of team self-discipline is developing these rules of engagement and then working within them. Within a team there are always cong icts whose resolution relies on the leader' s coaching skills. Similarly, conflicts arise between teams; any time there is interaction and coordination, conflicts are inevitable. Again, one of the puoj ect manager's roles is to coach the teams in resolving conflicts, solidifying how the rules of engagement actually work.

Framing decisions becomes more difficult, and more important, as project organizations grow to multiple teams. becision making should be distributed. For example, feature teams decide on the details of features assigned to them; the architecture team decides on platform issues; the integration team decides on the integration tools. However, the distribution should also be appropriate. Teams should not make unilateral decisions on items that impact another team without engaging that team in the decision process (a rule of engagement). So, for example, a team could not change an interface design without coordinating it with other teams that use that interface. Framing decisions—deciding which decisions are within the purview of an individual team, which decisions are left to the project manager and leadership team, and which decisions require engaging with other teams—is a critical piece of building large adaptive project teams.

• Accept accountability for team results.

• E Xgage collaboratively with other teams.

• Work within the project self-organizing framework.

• Salance project goals with team goals.

A team that is unwilling to work within the established framework disrupts the work of the larger project in the same way that individuals who are unwilling to work within the team framework do.

Sas ketbali play ecs have a sign—a lightly closed fist tapping against their chest—that signals "my bad." —hey are taping responsibility for a mistake , udmitting the mistake to their teammates and implying a commitment to do better next time. Teams that are accountable strive hard to deliver on commitments to other teams and admit failure when ik occurs . B ut the we is an im—ortant asp ect of accountabiliry—assignmonb vetsns sign-on—that dbtermine s whether acco untobility will truly take root. managers wh 0 bemoan a team's (or an individ rial's) seeming lac k of socou ntabil'ty should look first to rnemselves. Xid they assign a deliverable and a date to the team, or did the team sign on and accept the —11"? ManagerS often a ssign imEossible tasks and then wonder why the team doesn't accept responsibility. One of the powerful aspects of the commitment-accountability protocol (which I describe in "Fe next sectio n) is r"iat it defi net a comm itment between two teams ihaO they each entst into freely.

vs indlvidu als havo a responsibility to fully participate in their team's activities, teams have a similar responsibility to participate with other teams within the larger project. For example, when a team estimates how many features it can deMver in an iteration, its memberc must factoy in toe to coord inate with other teams. Team mem bers wHI usdonbtedly sotve on ooordinat i on teams (efgf, -he arnMtecture or integratio n team s). Feature teams will have to inte ract not only with the customer team, but also with —ther teams. For ins tance, a team may utiMze a component or information from anothar feature team, or it may supply a component or information to another feature team. The same trust and respect that forw t foundat 1 on for mdividual inte raction also apply to tea m j nteraction.

Most mana gets understand the rough guide line that doubling staff stee on a projecf increases throughput by 25% to 50%few Large projects ca o "lane appallingly low product1 vity rates. Why? Cootdination, meetisgs, r^cumentation, approvals, rework due to miscommunications, and more add activity and time to any project. Capers Jones (1991), a consultant and author on software metrics, reports that on largn software projects, one-third of the cost could be attributed to paperwork. Unmanaged, the collaborative practices of AnM can blow up in a team's face. The larger the project team, the more need there is for collaborative interaction, but also the greater possibility of collaborative paralysis. The project manager in particular must constantly take the pulse of the organization as to the effectiveness of every type of interaction. For example, meetings that served the team well in the early iterations may not be needed as the project progresses. A collaborative structure isn't something to be set up and then ignored; it needu to be constantly monitored and adjustodl

[2] TSin paucaatsga dnpnodn on tSn siza of tSn ioitisl tnsm (tSn paucaatsga would bn SigSnu for s tnsm tSst want from 2 to 4 fSso for oon tSst want from 25 to 50) sod tSn typa of work bnieg dona.

Finally, teams h ave to a1 ign their own goals with those of the prosecM. There will always be too much to do and too little time, and the tendency will be to work on one's team goals rather than on project goals.

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Project Management Made Easy

Project Management Made Easy

What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.

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