Self-organizing teams and Shangrala

Shangri-La is a fictional place described in the 1933 novel Lost Horizon by British author James Hilton. In the book, “Shangri-La” is a mystical, harmonious valley, gently guided from a lamasery, enclosed in the western end of the Kunlun Mountains. Shangri-La has become synonymous with any earthly paradise but particularly a mythical Himalayan utopia — a permanently happy land, isolated from the outside world.


Self organizing teams are a great thing but very hard to create. Once you find them you never want to leave.

If you are new to agile, I suggest that you don’t make self organization one of your first priorities.  It will come, but takes time.  Create opportunities to move toward self-organization.  The best place to start it is in the sprint planning and daily scrum.  After an iteration or two of “business as usual”.  Start asking the team, “Who would be best to do this task?”  or “Who wants to try this out?” If your team is steeped in command and control history they will probably fall back on whoever it was that had that assigned responsability in the past, but encourage them to think outside of the box.  You can plan ahead, and book up the one person who historically was the UI developer, for example, and then pull out a UI task.  “Oops, the UI developer is booked, OK, who else wants to do this? It has to get done, so someone step up.”  You will find that people have diverse interests and will surprise you with their abilities.  This will break the mold of one person one task and get the team to start thinking as a team.

Try it and post your results here.

By | 2016-10-25T16:20:20+00:00 May 23rd, 2010|teams, Uncategorized|0 Comments

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