Sunday, March 11, 2012

11 Self-organizing Teams Teaching Themselves Agile at the Same Time

In a previous post I talked about how I came to learn that I could teach Agile to lots of people at the same time. In writing that post I realized that it was a great illustration of self-organization. That realization was in the forefront of my mind as I ran the session "Hands On Agile Immersion" on March 10th at Agile and Beyond 2012 .

Although I've trained large groups of people on Agile many times over the last few years, it never occurred to me to create a video of the experience. This time, I decided to do it to illustrate large-scale self-organization in action. There were eleven separate teams with no appointed leader.

All I did was set up the learning environment, provide the materials, and give just a few instructions for each activity. The participants did all of the learning/teaching as a self-organized team on their own.

In the span of only an hour and a half, all 11 teams taught themselves the basics of 9 Agile practices as follows:

  • Form cross functional, collocated teams
  • Pick a software product to "build"
  • Write 12 User Stories for that product
  • Put the stories into a backlog ordered by business value with the help of a Product Owner
  • Estimate the stories in story points using Planning Poker
  • Plan a release using 2 iterations worth of stories
  • Do all of the above as independent self-organized teams

The teams did self-organization so well, I was able to do capture lots of video clips of the session and only had to answer 4 or 5 questions about the mechanics during the whole 90 minutes of the session.

As always, one of the favorite things that people learned was "Planning Poker," an Agile estimation technique involving special playing cards. I told people I didn't need them back and I also gave away all of my extras. I brought 48 decks and they were all gone at the end of the session. Not even a single card was left behind!


A short video (4:10) of the session is available on YouTube .


Some folks from Macomb Community College made their own video (3:58). The "Hands on Agile Immersion" part goes from 1:25 until the end.

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