> I observe that collaboration goes most smoothly when people take
> off their hats.
So, spurred by Ron's suggestion above, I would like to discuss the
question of roles. Of all the agile discusson groups, I think this one
has the largest concern for this question.
I agree that people should not take roles too seriously, and I
certainly agree that people with roles should have the skills
necessary to perform them.
But it seems to me that roles have significant positive aspects.
I can several kinds of advantages.
* legal, where certain kinds of roles have legal obligations
* cognitive, where having a role makes one focus strongly on fulfilling it.
and allows others to disengage somewhat from concern
* social, where having a role suggests one is valued by others
The advantage that I'd like to concentrate on is the second. For
example, I engage many times every day in activities that involve
other people whose jobs I rely on, even though I could do, or
potentially do, those jobs. It seems to me that we all benefit.
Might this be true in software development?
I think it might. As a programmer, I think I might be happy to rely on
a customer to be responsible for busines value, and a UI person to be
responsible for usability. And as either of those, I might like to
rely on a programmer to make sure the code works well. I am
big-headed enough to think that I have skills in all those areas, and
would be willing to contribute, and raise concerns if that work looked
like it was in trouble. But I would be happy to think they were
primarily someone else's responbility, at least until things get
Ron said: "I observe that collaboration goes most smoothly when people
take off their hats." Yet it seems to me that I see many instances of
successful collaboration that work well because of people wearing
hats. I have conducted studies of agile development teams where the
success seems to stem from what one of my colleagues calls "role
Certainly this can be taken too far. But it seems to me that roles can
PS. Ron suggested that a de-emphasis on roles was a part of agile
software developement. Can someone please explain to me why?