Why Agile Dedicated Teams Work Better

Steven ten Napel By Steven ten Napel on November 5, 2013

Ever wonder why you like roundabouts so much? (at least I do)

Or why you hate crossroads, controlled by traffic lights so much?

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Over the past decade or so, roundabouts in the Netherlands (and Europe) have become the major change in the layout of highly dense traffic areas. They initially emerged in southern European countries like Spain, but pretty quickly spread over the rest of the continent. Now that they are increasingly becoming the standard, every time I am with my car at such an old-fashioned traffic light controlled crossroad, I realize why I hate them so much, and wish they were a roundabout: 

Crossroads are empty most of the time! 

Waiting for the traffic light you think: why is nobody moving? Admittedly, not many accidents occur, but hey, that is obviously going to be the case when nothing moves! It leads me to conclude that having crossroads and traffic lights has a major drawback: maximizing control--even at the expense of throughput. 

But this is not the case with roundabouts!
 
If you stand still in front of a roundabout, it’s because it is full, which is usually during peak traffic times. And the cars on it don’t stand still, they move! And what about the cars waiting to get on the roundabout? They attentively try to find an empty slot, so that they can get on, and move. Also nobody (at least no traffic lights for that matter) tells these cars what to do and when. They decide themselves, because they know where they need to go, and the driver knows how to drive a car. Roundabouts effectively maximize throughput, by giving control to the car and the driver while letting them be guided by a few basic rules that apply for roundabouts.  

When I think of agile dedicated teams in software development, they seem pretty comparable to a car attempting to go around a roundabout. dedicated team has a team lead (driver) who knows how to steer the team (car). The team knows how to build software (the car engine works) and together, as a team they are highly autonomous. They know where to go, and how to get there. The team makes its own decisions, and is cognizant of the basic set of agile (roundabout) rules that they have to implement.

Take an example of a scrum team. When I have to explain what a scrum team is, and why it works, I use this analogy of the car on a roundabout because that’s essentially how a scrum team works. I often get asked whether a scrum team or an agile dedicated team also works in an offshore situation, where you have less direct control over the team. And I make the same case about crossroads and roundabouts. 

Would you rather have a driver that is far away from you and goes to where you want him to go, using your day to day (traffic light) directions, or would you rather have a driver that is able to reach his destination (your destination) by being able to get there himself, therefore maximizing throughput, which in the end is going to be way more time and cost effective for you? 

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Really, an agile dedicated team is not just an option when going offshore, it is essential because that’s what makes it work super effectively! 

Long Live our Roundabouts.  

Next steps:

Going agile is a great decision for your dedicated team. If you'd also like to read more about how to maximize its potential, read our post on 7 best practices for achieving success with dedicated teams

 seven habits of successful software companies

 

Image Credits:

1.) Nedko Ivanov

2.) Harold Heindell Tejada

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