The power of self organization – Go away Command & Control Monster

chuzzeteAgile, Self-OrganizationLeave a Comment

Let’s faced it, everybody love when you say: “Don’t worry, let’s the team manage it, remember that they are self organized”, but it is always like it? Are you (Scrum Master/Agile Master/Coach) able to let them go by themselves ? What about the Product Owner, do he/she trust the team enough to let them come out with solutions and proposals?

I’m sure that some memories are coming to your mind right now, from that far far away time when Command and Control-ism (yes the awful monster), was driving you and your acts.

The awful monster

Command & Control-ism “The awful monster”

Well, I can tell you that I’m on my way of leaving that evil mode and to show you how proud I am, here is an example that prove me, how powerful and necessary is to pass the ball to the team, and how, by empowering them and let it them self-organize things, everything could happen:


The Product Owner end up its discussions with upper management, stakeholders, clients where he/she gathered all the requests for a new project that would starts soon.


All the requirements gathered by the Product Owner, were transformed into epics. Now all we need is to get an estimate about how long it is going to take to the team(s), to complete the project. To get that information, we need:

– Split each epic into one or more user stories.

– An estimation in Story Points, T-Shirt size or whatever sizing method you prefer let the company knows, how much effort it would represent for the team(s) involved.

– A minimal viability analysis to confirm if technically, the project is feasible.

But there are some Constraints as always:

– More than one team would be involved in the development of the project, which means multiple product owners, different people, etc.

– The business needs a rough estimation about how long could take to complete the project but there is just one week to get back to them.

what should we do ?

what should we do ?

There are several ways to solve the puzzle but no matter what you are thinking, remember, is all about the team, so why don’t you ask them what to do ?

So here what we did:

Possible solutions

The command and control approach: You (the Scrum Master/Product Owner) ask the team(s) to meet all together in a room. Then, present to them each epic, try to understand after their hundred/thousand of reasoning, what did they mean by saying this or that. Then write it down and by then, after several meetings with you in the middle, trying to understand by commanding and controlling, roughly you would have an incredible headache and worth, no estimation neither split has been done so far and the confusion in everybody’s mind has doubled.

what should we do?

what should we do?

Don’t panic please, and go for the ask the team approach: You (the Scrum Master/Product Owner) ask the team(s) what to do to get the estimates by showing to them openly the constraints and your expectations, and then wait with a lot patience until they answer your questions. Remember, they are the team, they will support you if you trust them and if they feel respected, so let them go. They will come back with a solution for you. Relax and don’t be afraid about the results, just be prepared to be surprised because after they meet, with the help of their Scrum Master, they would be able to invite you to the room at let you know the solution and in most of the cases would be time for themselves to discuss, think, discuss,think, challenge themselves and after some good pizzas, a lot of work, creativity and at least a day alone (all teams), they would come with the amazing result that you were expecting from them:

– Epics split into several user stories, sized.

– Each team will come out with their own job to do.

All these incredible results would appear just once you let them self-organize, allow you to let the monster go, free your soul and mind and just enjoy the incredible experience of working with a Self-Organized team.

smashing team


– Self organized teams are capable to do whatever needs to be done.

– If they are empowered to do the job, you and the organization could be surprised with the results.

– Be happy and don’t worry about the Command & Control Monster, you will let it go, and it will be OK and the most important thing: You and the team too.

Thank you for sharing your experiences.

Have fun dear monsters !!!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.