March 2015 Archives

Tighten or loosen roles?

In my recent CSPO course, I got a question about when we should focus on the whole team (team, PO and SM), and when we should highlight different roles. Some people are somewhat confused because on one hand we define different roles and responsibilities, on the other hand we talk about the whole team. How strictly should those roles be defined and responsibilities be respected? Should we tighten or loosen roles?

MOI and Agile value

That question made me think and reminded me of MOI (Motivation, Organization, Information) mode from Jerry Weinberg. In MOI, neither too little nor too much leads to effectiveness. The most effectiveness is achieved when you strike a balance. This applies onto Motivation, Organization and Information, and organization is the dimension related to the question.


It implies that it depends on your context. You observe what makes your situation less effective, is it due to too loose or too tight organization? Roles belong to organization. Your effectiveness is low. When it is caused by lack of organization, you increase it by for example highlighting roles. When it is caused by too much organization, you decrease it by for example focusing on the whole team.

The first Agile value is "Individuals and interactions over processes and tools", roles are part of processes. If what you do depends on the situation, does it conflict with that we value more on Individuals and interactions, which implies loosening roles? No, it does not. In general, we lean towards loosening roles and favor individuals and interactions, while in your specific situation, it is still possible that you lean too far away from organization, thus you actually benefit from having a bit more processes by for example tightening roles a bit.


How do we tighten or loosen roles? CDE (Container, Difference, Exchange) from Glenda Eoyang provides useful insights, in particular, we influence the organization by changing container. Expanding container leads to more loosen roles and more room for self-organization. This includes practices such as collective code ownership, PO and team collaborating on requirement clarification, creating the whole product team, etc.

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