Team & Organization Design

Org Structure & Design

Overview

Team Design and Rollout is the process of forming Agile Teams and aligning those teams to the work that needs to be completed. This includes determining which types of teams need to be formed, what type of work those teams will be doing, and what roles to fill on the teams.

It is important to design teams for the long-term, so that teams are stable and can improve performance over time. An effective team design across the enterprise supports immediate needs while providing flexibility for emerging needs and strategic goals. This requires creating and maintaining right-sized, cross-functional teams.

 

Visualizing Stable Teams

Basic Team Structure

The basic structure for an Agile Team in the Enterprise Business Agility framework is referred to as the “triangle”. The triangle structure is comprised of three leadership roles and the development team. The roles in the Agile Team are:

  • Product Owner: Represents the voice of the customer and is accountable for ensuring that the team delivers value to the business
  • Process Lead: Ensures that the Agile process is used as intended and is accountable for removing impediments to the ability of the team to deliver the sprint goal/deliverables (for a Scrum team this is the ScrumMaster)
  • Solution Lead: Supports the team by sharing the technical vision, resolving technical impediments, evolving the design and working through technical problems
  • Development Team: Cross-functional group of individuals that has the ability and authority to define, build, and test incremental solutions developed in short iterations

Team Design: Key Points

Agile teams need to include the right skills, number of people and roles and be of the right type to meet their goals

Skills

Teams are empowered to define, build and test incremental solutions to deliver on the Product Owner’s vision. Teams that do not include all of the skills needed to deliver are slowed down by dependencies on people outside of the team.   

Size

The ideal size for most Agile teams is no fewer than five and no more than nine people. If the team is too small, predictability will suffer, as having even a single team member unavailable has a large impact on the team. Very small teams are also less likely to have all of the needed skills. If the team is too large, communication, coordination and work-flow become challenging and less efficient.

Roles

High performing teams include and have a clear understanding within the team of each of the roles, including the three leadership roles and specialized skills. While these roles are clear, team members also act as “generalizing specialists,” wrapping around whatever needs to be done for the team to accomplish team goals, to the best of each person’s ability, regardless of their role.

Types

Different types of delivery teams can be formed, depending on the scope of the work and purpose of the team. Some common examples include:

  • Capability Strategy Teams: A group responsible for setting a strategy, direction or clear roadmap for a specific business capability
  • Product Teams: Integrated, multidisciplinary team responsible for planning, delivering and supporting a product or product line
  • Component Teams: Responsible for planning, delivering and supporting a system, application or set of components of a system
  • Program Teams/Tribes: Providing leadership, guidance and alignment for a series of related, ongoing projects formed as a program
  • Feature Teams: Cross-functional, cross-component team responsible for building, delivering and supporting end-to-end customer features/value
  • Functional Teams: Group of people with common functional expertise working to efficiently provide that function
  • Discovery/Innovation Teams: Designed to explore new ideas, take advantage of high-value opportunities and bring innovation to the larger organization
  • Enabling Team: Team of change agents working to enable others with desired skills
  • Community of Practice Team: Group of individuals coming together to provide standards, best practices, common tools or betterment of a role/discipline

Team Environment

In a healthy environment, teams:

  • Feel safe to work as a team without interference
  • Understand that risk taking is a necessary component of learning
  • Engage in a high level of collaboration
  • Handle problems/issues as a team, escalating as needed

The team work area includes:

  • Collocated work area or collaboration room
  • Visual information radiators
  • Supplies – post-it notes, markers, flip charts
  • Round table for discussion or conference area
  • Video conferencing
  • Food/snacks/toys

Levels of Team Organization

Team View

An empowered, cross-functional, self-organized team that pulls from their own backlog

  • Delivers valuable, tested, working software every 2-3 weeks
  • High collaboration and facilitation skills
  • Scrum project management and XP-inspired technical practices; Kanban for flow
  • Value delivery via User Stories

Program View

A group of teams working together on a program or a project, pulling from a shared backlog

Teams can be organized around features, components or in other ways. Managers need to consider how to organize teams in a way that will minimize dependencies between teams.

  • Delivers working, tested full system increments every 2-3 weeks
  • Operates with vision, architecture and UX guidance
  • Common iteration lengths and estimating
  • Face-to-face planning for collaboration and alignment
  • Value delivery via Features and Benefits

Portfolio View

Executive leadership team prioritizes backlog according to quarterly goals to establish the roadmap; program teams pull from the portfolio backlog

  • Centralized strategy, decentralized execution
  • Lean-Agile budgeting empowers decision makers
  • Kanban systems provide portfolio visibility and WIP limits
  • Enterprise architecture guides larger technology decisions
  • Objective metrics support governance and improvement
  • Value delivery via Epics/Deliverables

Enterprise Stable Teams View

This view represents a redesign of the organizational flow from a hierarchical reporting structure to a design based on how work flows through the system. A lean organization cuts bureaucracy to optimize the whole, minimizing levels of approval and hand-offs.

  • Portfolios align to strategic goals at the enterprise level
  • Strategic priorities flow through each level of planning and engines of teams deliver through coordinated releases
  • As organizations mature, processes and teams are created to manage service and support work separately from strategic program/project work so that teams can stay focused
  • Members of cross-functional teams meet with other individuals within their area of expertise through communities of practice, to work on continuous improvement and best practices for development, testing, requirements, etc

Enterprise Stable Teams Conceptual Model