‘Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done.’
This principle from the Agile Manifesto – that teams are ‘self-organizing’ – may sound simple; however, supporting self-organizing teams can be one of the more significant cultural changes that a company in transformation faces. This is especially true in a large enterprise. You may see hierarchical structures and processes in place that prevent teams from aligning themselves around work to be done. You may even go so far as to think ‘there’s no way that would work here.’ But we’re here to say that it can work, and it can yield happy, productive teams who are more energized than ever before to deliver value for your customers.
We are scrum masters at American Electric Power, one of the largest electric utilities in the U.S., serving nearly 5.4 million customers in 11 states. The teams we are a part of have explored dynamic reteaming, self-selection, interviewing and hiring new team members, pairing and co-training in order to build the strongest teams possible for the work at hand. All of this was done with the support of our management, and through incremental change. While our path wasn’t always easy, we did learn a lot along the way. We want to share our story so that you might start to envision a future reality in which your teams can be trusted with organizing themselves.