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Decision making and Agile self-directed teams

Agile 2011 is starting off with a bang here in Salt Lake City. With 16 different tracks and so many high-profile speakers, it’s tough to make a decision about which sessions to attend. Perhaps it was fitting that the first session I attended was about decision-making!

“Managers vs. Agile Teams: Who Makes the Decisions?,” a session led by Meghann Drury and Ken Power began with describing the decision-making process. We each make decisions constantly — what to wear, who to speak to, and, again, which sessions to attend when we’re at a conference. But in this interactive workshop, we explored decisions made in a business context and how those decisions are influenced.

The workshop began by teams talking about decisions that are made at different levels, such as at the organizational level, at the business unit level, at the release level, at the sprint level and so on. We talked about who influences decisions at these different levels. Which decisions are strategic vs. tactical? When should management be involved in Agile environments with self-directed teams? Should every team member have equal weight in decisions about the sprint?

These questions sparked interesting debate and helped the group think through the decision-making process and understand at a deeper level some of the complexities involved and how to get the appropriate people involved when making business decisions.

Update: This morning it was announced that the winner for Best Research Paper was
“Decision Making in Agile Developoment: A Focus Group Study of Decisions & Obstacles” by Meghann Drury, Kieran Conboy and Ken Power.

In this video clip, participant Roshen Joseph describes some of what she learned in the session:

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