Self-Organising Teams and Collaboration [A3]

Introduction to Self-Organising Teams

"Self-organising teams choose how best to accomplish their work, rather than being directed by others outside the team." - Scrum Guide

A football field with two teams in different formations.

Let’s set the scene… 

We're 10 minutes into a football game and one team are already 1-0 behind. The opposition have set up in an innovative formation which has caught the team off guard. The manager hasn't given the team who are behind any instructions to change the system they're playing, but the defence take it into their own hands. They change formation themselves. It works, and they manage to equalise soon after the change.

Knowledge is the bedrock of organisation 

The defence were able to produce a solution to the opposition's innovative approach to attack because they were knowledgeable about the tasks they had been set and what must be done to achieve them. In this case, the task was simple: stop the ball going into their net again. 

According to Peter Drucker, 'workers are knowledgeable workers if they know more about the work they perform than their bosses.'  

Self-organising teams encourage autonomy and responsibility from every member for their own work. In their own way, every team member becomes a leader. 

Knowledgeable workers are the crucial part of any self-organising team. A worker in these teams has the ability (and the space) to determine the order in which they are going to complete their work, and how they are going to go about it. 

'The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organising teams', the Agile Manifesto states. This raises a few questions: 

  • What are self-organising teams? 
  • Why do we need them? 
  • What difference do self-organising teams make? 
  • How can we support self-organisation? 
  • Could there be any way to help this special kind of teamwork to emerge? 

The video that follows introduces you to some of the answers to these questions. In particular, the video shows how 'development teams are empowered by the organisation to organise and manage their own work' (Scrum Guide). 

When you are ready, select Next to continue.


This section explains the importance of self-organisation and how teams can use Agile to tackle complex problems. 

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