4 Ways to Hold Your Agile Teams Accountable

Empowerment and Accountability

Agile teams have the sacred goal of delivering value.   So perhaps Agile teams be made accountable for the value that they create?  This seems reasonable.  However, there are problems with this.  For one thing, it is very open-ended.  How is value to be defined?  If it can’t be defined properly, then it can’t be measured, and therefore it quite literally, can’t be held to account!  This is not a trivial question.  It is a vital question.  Consider the implications of the following different definitions of value on the level of empowerment of the team…

  1. If quality code is valuable, then the team should be held accountable for producing quality code.  The team should therefore have agency to secure good testing harnesses, and testing frameworks.  The team will likely wish to organize around best practices such as paired programming.
  2. If serial delivery is valuable, then the team should be held accountable for only doing one thing at a time.  They will concentrate on reducing cycle times.  They should have agency to reject work that isn’t tied to their next deliverable.  They should have agency to request, and get, configuration servers, virtualization technologies to support continuous delivery, and other tools.
  3. If schedule and budget are important, then the team should be accountable for its schedule and budget.  The team should therefore have agency to attract and dismiss members to the team.  They should be empowered to control the scope of their project, and to determine the most efficient and effective way to meet the needs.
  4. If customer benefit is valuable, then the team should be held accountable for the user’s outcomes.  The team should therefore have agency to create feedback mechanisms into all the features they release.  To meet their obligations, they will require regular access to the real customer, not just a proxy.  Business Analysts, Product Owners, and Interaction Designers should also be on the team in a full-time capacity.
[tweetherder]What are you holding your #agile #teams accountable for, and are you empowering them appropriately?[/tweetherder]

With great responsibility should come great power…


Paul Osborn

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