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Agile IQ®

Self Organisation

Key Behaviour. Primary Factor.


Self-organising teams are more effective than manager-led teams. They have 15-20% increased productivity, faster decision-making, higher quality, and achieve their goals more often. Self-organising teams choose how best to accomplish their work, rather than being directed by others outside of the team.

What is self-organisation?

Agile frameworks, such as Scrum, have always required teams to be able to do what it takes to deliver value.

Learn More About Self Organisation

Watch Dan Pink’s video on autonomy, mastery and purpose, and the impacts that self-directed work can makes.

Jeff Sutherland on Self Organisation

Google Tech talk by Jeff Sutherland. Self-Organization: The Secret Sauce for Improving your Scrum team

David Marquette on Self Organisation

A video adapted from Captain David Marquet's talk on Greatness, and is based on his book, Turn the Ship Around!

This doesn't mean there are no managers

Agile doesn’t mean there are no managers.

The term self-management describes how an agile team should work. Depending on the context this might require managers outside of the team doing work in support of the team’s goals. It might mean that people with the title manager are in the agile team working on the delivery of value.

Agile is focused on delivering incremental value in pursuit of a Product Goal, but it does not describe how outside of that context you should structure your organisation and what job titles people should have. Agile will, as it always has, encourage teams to challenge any management interference if it does not align to the team’s goals and help the team deliver value.

What influences stronger self-organisation behaviour?

Six key behaviours influence self-organisation. The stronger these behaviours the stronger a team’s agility.

Managing products with agility

Managing products and services with agility results in products that provide valuable business outcomes, increased flexibility to respond to change, and greater transparency for investment decisions in product development.

Clear structure

Team members need clear roles, plans and goals. An understanding of job expectations, the process for fulfilling these expectations, and the consequences of one’s performance are important for agile team effectiveness.

Goal clarity

Teams perform better if the goals that guide work are clear, specific, and challenging rather than vague, ambiguous, and unchallenging.


On dependable teams, members reliably complete quality work on time (vs the opposite – shirking responsibilities).

Smaller work batches

Working in small batches is one of a set of capabilities that drive higher software delivery and organisational performance.

Developing people and teams

All agile team members must continuously improve agile practices to increase the benefits and adapt as new challenges arise. Scrum Masters often fulfil coaching roles to serve this outcome.

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