From the dawn of time, humans have always worked together as a team to overcome hardship and danger, and make the community stronger. Specialization naturally grouped people together to form hunting parties or food gatherers and later on governing councils and religious groups. This grouping together of dedicated, like-minded people forms the core of our success as a society today.
Fast forward to modern times. It’s no coincidence that popular sports teams typically number between five and twelve people. Could you imagine a football team with 25 players per side? The communication and coordination of such a large group would be much to inefficient for such fast paced game play. To fans in the stadium, their reactions would seem slow and imprecise and probably not very entertaining. Yet this is precisely how many companies have organized themselves in the last century.
Corporations Embrace Agile
As the Industrial Age closes, and the Information Age dawns, corporations are also beginning to turn back the clock on how they structure their work and projects. Breaking up large, pyramidal departments into small, agile groups just feels more natural and effective. But a lot of companies are overscoped and end up creating more projects than they can staff. The (pointy haired boss) solution to this problem is to simply assign employees to multiple teams. Just imagine how this would look like on the football field with players playing for both teams simultaneously!
The Impossible Situation
And it gets worse: dedicated team members aren’t so understanding of these “fence straddlers”. Frustration at their lack of commitment quickly escalates into open conflict and, when no remedy is found, casting that person out of the team. This is both frustrating and demotivating, but how can you rely on someone that works for other teams? The simple answer: you can’t. How can you avoid this crippling turn of events?
Focus Creates Dedication and Quality
If you find yourself in this situation, pull the chain, stop the line and regroup. Reorganize your teams around the available personnel (not the other way around). Agile has always put people before processes and tools, but most companies only care to embrace what seems to be the more lucrative aspects of agile at the expense of its most important tenet – the people. Don’t stand idly by and allow such overstaffing to happen – by recognizing the trap and reacting accordingly, you can avoid the wasted resources of overscoped initiatives. With small, dedicated teams you can begin firing on all pistons and driving your organization forward.
Have a similar story to share with us? Tell us how you managed to pull your company out of this situation.