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Event Report: Leading Self-Organising Teams

At the October SUGSA meeting Peter Hundermark shared his views on how to lead self-organising teams, along with some honest experiences of his successes and failures and growth in understand as to what self-organisation actually means to how an organisation needs to change as a whole.  The key to success seems to be in understanding organisations.  Peter’s partnership with Dr Sigi Kaltenecker, a seasoned organisational coach, has led him to better understand organisations and organisational change.  Over the years they have partnered to build a model for leading self-organising teams and the organisational change to support them.  Peter touched a little on this model and on the classic examples of what self-organisation is about.

Some key things that stood out to me were:

  • The reminder that any self-organising team needs a facilitator in order to work properly.  This is to help avoid a single leader from surfacing and potentially dominating the team, destroying its self-organisation.
  • Trust is a key factor – on all levels.  Without trust it is hard to enable a self-organising team.
  • Middle Managers need to become change agents focused on maintaining the change to allow self-organisation.  The common scenario is that upper management and/or the development teams becoming deeply involved in trying to adopt the new agile way of working.  Too often middle management isn’t focused on.  However they are key in order to aid and promote the change.  While we often succeed in giving a safe space for the team to fail – we too often don’t give that same safe space for middle managers to fail.  As a result a lot of the transition doesn’t get supported in the middle of the organisation.  In order to succeed with self-organisation – all levels of the organisation need to be supported and be able to fail and learn.

It was great to hear some new insights on self-managing teams – and to be reminded of the ones that we already knew.  It was also interesting to get a taster of the model that is being taught by Sigi and Peter in their course.

We adjourned as usual for drinks and snacks afterwards – yet another SUGSA event enjoyably completed.

Event Report: Retrospectives – Get Better at Getting Better.

It was a cold and wet night, but many people still made it out to participate.  Many thanks to Cara for facilitating this discussion into retrospectives and for sharing her knowledge and learning from her experiences.

The flow of the sessions was standard retrospective style.   The agenda was laid out and we got down to the business of group discussion.

We broke into 6 groups to focus on the 6 parts of the retro.   But first – the whole group brainstormed the outcomes and the key factors for a successful retrospective.

We then brainstormed in our six groups – each on a board focusing on one of the stages of the retrospective.

After gathering the data, we each had 1 minute per board to read the boards – and then to dot vote the board of most interest / issue to you.  Each person had 2 dots.  We dug into the actions board and then started a more general Q&A which dug into some of the other boards.

So what we generated for the stages of the retrospective are below:

Everyone learnt something new and many learnt a lot new.  Many thanks again to Cara for sharing her experiences and facilitating the discussions. 

We closed with a quick raffle for a ticket to the Cape Town gathering.  Congratulations again to Tania who won the ticket.  We followed this with the usual drinks and snacks for more discussions around retrospectives and other things Scrum.  We look forward to seeing everyone at the Gathering next month!

Agile Retrospectives by Esther Darby and Diana Larson @
Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel Pink @
RSA Animate overview on Drive is @

Cape Town: Retrospectives: Get better at getting better

Join SUGSA Cape Town on 4 August when Cara Turner discusses Retrospectives.

When: 4 August 2011, 6:00PM

Topic: Retrospectives: Get better at getting better

Sign up: Please sign up here in order to help us with catering.

Allan Gray Portswood office in the Presentation Room on the third floor. You can download a map here. Everyone parking in the Portswood parking area will have to pay for their own parking tickets. There is also parking available in Beach Road.

The coolest idea across the Agile methodologies is continuous improvement – the real opportunity to get better at whatever we do, built into the work we’re doing. And the coolest tool for driving change and surfacing the potential waiting to be tapped, is the team retrospective.

This mostly interactive session is an exploration of facilitation techniques that stimulate, focus and energize engaged teams, offer fresh ways to look at issues and opportunities, and create the conditions for team ownership, self-organization and excellence.

About Cara Turner
I’m an Agile-passionate Scrum Master, and take the Prime Directive to heart through all the ups and downs of software development. Given the right circumstances, I believe all teams are capable of creating the best software there is – but getting to those right circumstances is the challenge facing most organizations. Facilitation has become a vital tool in my kit for harnessing the knowledge of those closest to the work, to direct their own meaningful change.

Event Report: Discovering the value of DDD

Many thanks to Herman Lintvelt for presenting this entertaining workshop on Domain-Driven Design.  There is clearly an interest and hunger for details around DDD with over 100 sign-ups for this event and an awesome turn out on the night.

We started with group work, brainstorming the common problems of software development and writing those up. Herman proceeded to briefly touch on the issues and suggest that DDD could perhaps help with many of the problems.


Herman illustrated the power of a ubiquitous language that provides a common understanding between developer and business.  When discussing a design based on the developer’s understanding and in his language vs. a DDD design discussed with the developer meeting the business with a common language.  The example was the building of a Scrum tool which the audience emoted with well and generated many entertaining comments along the way.  Thanks to Aslam for volunteering to help out with this.

It came around a full circle and after discussing more interesting details we closed with briefly touching on all the problems that were raised initially.  If you’d like to check out the slides they are here.

As always we ended off with food and drink with many people continuing to discuss the topic relatively late.

Hope to see everyone at the next event which will probably focus on  Retrospectives.

Cape Town: Discovering the value of Domain-Driven Design

Join SUGSA Cape Town on 7 July when Herman Lintvelt facilitates a workshop on Domain Driven Design. Read More…