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?

Self-organisation isn’t chaos. It requires management to set guardrails that define the boundaries for team-level actions, behaviours, and expected outputs.

The stronger a team’s self-organisation behaviours, and the more managers support and encourage self-management, the stronger the outcomes agile brings: faster to market, higher quality, improved predictability, lower delivery risk and and transparency.

Self-organising teams are more productive and achieve their goals more often than traditionally managed teams.

Agile frameworks require teams to do what it takes to deliver value. This is done within a set of delivery and operational rules defined by management often referred to as “guardrails”.

With a clear set of guardrails teams are empowered to:

  • Quickly make decisions on how to do their work and adapt to change.
  • Pivot when a different solution is needed to achieve team goals.
  • Deliver to a consistent level of quality that encompasses quality, audit, documentation, and compliance criteria, known as the Definition of Done.

Faster decisions

Quickly make decisions on how to do their work and adapt to change when the need arises to meet delivery outcomes, without the need to escalate and wait for leaders.

Faster Pivot to change

Inspect progress and adapt when a different solution is needed to achieve delivery goals and deadlines.

Higher quality

Deliver quality with low risk by building-in compliance and standards over assessing them downstream when the cost of change is higher.

Videos from the experts

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.

Clear Structure

Team members need clear roles, plans and goals to be successful in delivery.


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

Developing People and Teams

Continuously improving agile practices increases the organisation’s delivery capabilities to deliver faster with higher quality.

Goal Clarity

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

Smaller Work Batches

Working in small batches is one of a set of capabilities that drive higher software delivery

Actions to improve self-organisation


Capacity Planning

Assess capacity each Sprint to understand what the load is on the team versus how much


Setting Guardrails

What are the minimum set of roles, events, artefacts and timeboxes that are essential for team’

Building Capability

Succession Planning

Actively create plans for who fills in for key roles at Sprint Planning.

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