To mitigate the drama and uncertainty that often accompanies complex, innovative projects, Agemba provides a team/circle organizational model that combines the roles of thinking and doing into cross-functional, self-organizing teams, tasked with and held accountable for delivering on their stated missions.

Teams and Circles

“Team” and “Circle” are somewhat interchangeable terms, “Team” being the Scrum term from which the concept is derived. In standard Scrum “The whole Scrum Team” means the Product Owner, the Scrum Master and the (development) team. In Agemba we have generalized the concept and refer to this as a “Circle”, they are depicted graphically as Circles which symbolize the open structure required to make them effective. Circle members and their roles are defined within Agemba and everything that is assigned to them is visible and traceable through its many data views.

Key roles in Circles

While there is some flexibility in the composition of each circle, the ideal structure includes Team of approximately five to nine team members with the cross functional skills to deliver on the mission, plus:

Commanding Officer (CO)

This is an outward, customer facing role based on the Scrum Product Owner with responsibility for creating the  best possible ROI of the activities, developing product developing product specifications and managing the business aspects of the team.

Executive Officer (XO)

In traditional Scrum this would be the Scrum Master role, but it is often a leadership role with an inward perspective and responsibility for helping the team constantly improve and  achieve its goals by removing the obstacles and impediments that interfere with progress.

The Team concept in Agemba

In Agemba we also use the term “Team” simply as a collection of users. Individuals can belong to different Teams, the Team name can be used in references in comments and assignments. It adds a powerful abstraction because members may of course change over time making it much easier to address the functional Team and not the individual.

Different types of Circles

Primary Circles

Primary Circles are cross-functional groups of five to nine people responsible for one or more of the organization’s core functions. Agemba’s “Circle Map” shows each Circle’s role in the organization and how it relates to other Circles; it shows dependencies, delegations and relationships and is the top level of a data structure which unfolds to provide the facts that keeps the organization on track and in synch.

At the most granular level, the “Sprint Backlog” shows the assignments and status of Epics, Stories and Tasks that Team members and XO might focus on. Similarly the “Product Backlog” will show higher level strategic information of value to the CO.

Agemba provides collaboration and communication tools that make team work easy. Colleagues can communicate and share in real time, but the “Daily Digest” is an automated email that gives each member their assignments and lists of comments and other communications from others in the organization.

Level 2 Circles

Whenever there are more Circles in an organization, there is a need for extra coordination, resolution of issues or opportunities. Agemba supports Level 2 Circles for this purpose. It is common practice to talk about:

  • A Tactical Level 2 Circle, where Team members meet to resolve issues around meeting tactical goals, shared resources or other common impediments.
  • A Strategic Level 2 Circle, where COs meet to resolve issues around prioritization that cannot be resolved bilaterally at the Primary Circle level. This also includes responding to opportunities require looking at the broader organizational picture.
  • An Operational Level 2 Circle, where XOs meet and decide on how to tackle common impediments, ideas for improvement or changes to the CIrcle structure.

Secondary Circles

Sometimes there are crosscutting concerns that need the collaboration of members from other Circles and possibly a customer or an external supplier. These are called “Secondary Circles” and people (with their home in a Primary Circle) may spend time here on specific topics such as defining new test procedures, designing new graphic profile or such. This kind of Circle, is sometimes also called a Community of Interest or a Guild, it brings together Team members with similar skills, to work on issues relevant to their discipline.

A special situation exists if something completely unforeseen needs to be tackled. It is common practice to define a temporary or transient Circle, typically comprising very experienced people from the Primary Circles, brought together to resolve the transient situation as quickly as possible. The type is not expressly defined in Agemba, but such new de facto Circles can be established quickly in order to resolve the issues.

Summary

  • A software tool that unifies and organization
  • Defines the structures, roles and responsibilities
  • Provides total transparency
  • Provides granular details of status, time-lines, impediments etc.
  • Facilitates collaboration and communication
  • Fosters teamwork and job satisfaction
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