Stability & Allocation

Org Structure & Design



Stable Teams are long-lasting teams that are different from project teams that are assembled and disbanded as projects are launched and closed out. These teams have dedicated team members and a clear and consistent focus for their work. Work is allocated to these teams according to their capacity, which becomes predictable over time. Teams work at a sustainable pace and have time for continuous growth, creativity and innovation.

Pushing projects beyond capacity actually causes an organization to slow down!

Team Maturity

When teams are formed or new people are introduced into a team, the team naturally goes through a forming process. The process is captured in the Tuckman stages of group development:

  • Forming: In the Forming stage, team members are just beginning to form relationships and become comfortable with one another. It is natural for people to feel unsure and nervous as team members try to understand their own roles, the roles of the other team members and their purpose in the group.
  • Storming: Storming is the most difficult stage for a team to weather, but it is necessary for healthy team development. Team members begin building trust by airing out their differences, showing a readiness to work things out as a team.
  • Norming: Once the team has moved past the polite stage of Forming and has recognized and worked out their differences through Storming, they begin to focus on how they will accomplish their work.
  • Performing: Performing teams act as a highly effective, problem-solving unit that can reach solutions quickly and can even head off issues before they become problems.

Each time a team is created or significantly changed, the team goes through the stages again.  Stable Teams can get to the performing stage and remain in that stage long enough to become high-performing teams.

How Leaders can Help

Allocating Work

In allocating work to teams, leaders need to ask different questions, shifting from managing individual resources to supporting Stable Teams in pulling the work.

Stop Asking:

  • Which resources are available?
  • How can I have an enterprise view of my resources?
  • Which manager do I need to negotiate with to get John?

Start Asking:

  • Which team is qualified and ready to pull this project into their backlog?
  • How can I have an enterprise view of my delivery teams?
  • Which Product Owner has the team with the skills needed?

Dedication and Focus

Multitasking is a primary cause of waste!

Optimizing productivity and flow requires that teams can focus on one thing at a time and finish what they start, with small pieces of work moving through the team in short iterations.

With dedicated team members, velocity becomes predictable and the team is consistently able to meet their commitments.  It is important to minimize disruptions to the team and not pull team members away to do work outside of the team. Effective planning includes looking ahead for issues that will impact specific team members or team design and making any changes in a thoughtful and least impactful way. Gathering team input on any changes or emerging resource needs allows the team to have a voice and guides managers toward decisions that work best for the team.

If team members are being pulled away often or team changes are happening frequently, look for the root cause of the problem.

Potential root causes include:

  • Managers have not made the shift from assigning work to individuals to supporting teams
  • Team design does not support priorities/is not aligned with value streams
  • Teams are not cross-functional and do not include all of the needed skills
  • Missing or ineffective processes for resolving production issues
  • Priority work is missing from the planning process (for example, team members pulled to help with architectural work that was not part of planning)