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Team Size or reasons that we shouldn't allow teams to grow larger than 12

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  • Mark Levison
    Recently one of the teams in my area has grown to the size of 15 and I see its having an impact on them. Before I sit down with the manager in question and
    Message 1 of 6 , Dec 1, 2008
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      Recently one of the teams in my area has grown to the size of 15 and I see its having an impact on them. Before I sit down with the manager in question and discuss the pitfalls of a team this size I wanted to make sure I have my ducks lined up.

      Off the top of my very tired brain here are the reasons I can think:
      1) Standup has become a sitdown and runs 30 minutes not 15.
      2) Planning meeting runs over four hours and team members don't feel everything is properly planned. Team members tend to dread these meetings.
      3) Number of communication paths is too many for people to manage.

      At the start of the project the manager was concerned that team members would miss out on key information if he split the teams.

      What have I missed?

      Cheers
      Mark Levison

      Blog: http://www.notesfromatooluser.com/
      Recent Entries: Agile/Scrum Smells:  http://www.notesfromatooluser.com/2008/06/agilescrum-smells.html
      Agile Games for Making Retrospectives Interesting: http://www.notesfromatooluser.com/2008/10/agile-games-for-making-retrospectives-interesting.html
    • Mark Summers
      Mark I always find the biggest problem when the team gets large is they struggle to manage their interactions to achieve the Goal that they have committed too.
      Message 2 of 6 , Dec 1, 2008
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        Mark

        I always find the biggest problem when the team gets large is they
        struggle to manage their interactions to achieve the Goal that they
        have committed too. People don't know what others in the team are
        doing, the Daily Scrum doesn't solve this problem because at 30 mins
        with so many people team members switch off.

        So I think having one big team there is just as much chance if not
        more that people will miss out on key information. At least having
        two teams focusing on two discret areas (if possible), they can work
        together effectivly. Although it will depend on the environment, how
        well you can seperate streams of work for the two teams, and the
        relationship between the people.

        Mark

        --- In scrumdevelopment@yahoogroups.com, "Mark Levison" <mark@...>
        wrote:
        >
        > Recently one of the teams in my area has grown to the size of 15
        and I see
        > its having an impact on them. Before I sit down with the manager in
        question
        > and discuss the pitfalls of a team this size I wanted to make sure
        I have my
        > ducks lined up.
        >
        > Off the top of my very tired brain here are the reasons I can think:
        > 1) Standup has become a sitdown and runs 30 minutes not 15.
        > 2) Planning meeting runs over four hours and team members don't feel
        > everything is properly planned. Team members tend to dread these
        meetings.
        > 3) Number of communication paths is too many for people to manage.
        >
        > At the start of the project the manager was concerned that team
        members
        > would miss out on key information if he split the teams.
        >
        > What have I missed?
        >
        > Cheers
        > Mark Levison
        >
        > Blog: http://www.notesfromatooluser.com/
        > Recent Entries: Agile/Scrum Smells:
        > http://www.notesfromatooluser.com/2008/06/agilescrum-smells.html
        > Agile Games for Making Retrospectives Interesting:
        > http://www.notesfromatooluser.com/2008/10/agile-games-for-making-
        retrospectives-interesting.html
        >
      • Michael Yip
        Mark,   As a champion on Scrum you can approach the sponsor(s) of the team and address the 3 points you d mentioned below and be constructive with your
        Message 3 of 6 , Dec 1, 2008
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          Mark,
           
          As a champion on Scrum you can approach the sponsor(s) of the team and address the 3 points you'd mentioned below and be constructive with your suggestion. Ultimately, the team will need to realize it and address the issue.
           
          Personally, I was in the position to advice a group where 3 of the teams had grown to over 12. The sponsors realized the inefficiency and addressed that. You cannot change the mind of a sponsor(s) who has a fixed mindset. Let the results speak. I know, its painful. Lessons learned.
           
          Regards,
          Michael


          --- On Mon, 12/1/08, Mark Levison <mark@...> wrote:
          From: Mark Levison <mark@...>
          Subject: [scrumdevelopment] Team Size or reasons that we shouldn't allow teams to grow larger than 12
          To: scrumdevelopment@yahoogroups.com
          Date: Monday, December 1, 2008, 11:29 AM

          Recently one of the teams in my area has grown to the size of 15 and I see its having an impact on them. Before I sit down with the manager in question and discuss the pitfalls of a team this size I wanted to make sure I have my ducks lined up.

          Off the top of my very tired brain here are the reasons I can think:
          1) Standup has become a sitdown and runs 30 minutes not 15.
          2) Planning meeting runs over four hours and team members don't feel everything is properly planned. Team members tend to dread these meetings.
          3) Number of communication paths is too many for people to manage.

          At the start of the project the manager was concerned that team members would miss out on key information if he split the teams.

          What have I missed?

          Cheers
          Mark Levison

          Blog: http://www.notesfro matooluser. com/
          Recent Entries: Agile/Scrum Smells:  http://www.notesfro matooluser. com/2008/ 06/agilescrum- smells.html
          Agile Games for Making Retrospectives Interesting: http://www.notesfro matooluser. com/2008/ 10/agile- games-for- making-retrospec tives-interestin g.html
        • George Dinwiddie
          ... Is it 15 developers? Or 15 in the Whole Team? ... I ve seen 20 people complete the standup in under 15 minutes. It takes some discipline, but it can be
          Message 4 of 6 , Dec 1, 2008
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            Mark Levison wrote:
            > Recently one of the teams in my area has grown to the size of 15 and I
            > see its having an impact on them. Before I sit down with the manager in
            > question and discuss the pitfalls of a team this size I wanted to make
            > sure I have my ducks lined up.

            Is it 15 developers? Or 15 in the Whole Team?

            > Off the top of my very tired brain here are the reasons I can think:
            > 1) Standup has become a sitdown and runs 30 minutes not 15.

            I've seen 20 people complete the standup in under 15 minutes. It takes
            some discipline, but it can be done. We say "talk to the cards" to
            focus on the essentials and avoid relating "what we worked on." Pairs
            don't repeat the same thing. It /can/ be done.

            > 2) Planning meeting runs over four hours and team members don't feel
            > everything is properly planned. Team members tend to dread these meetings.

            Here again, it may just be poor meeting protocol. But you may want to
            let just part of the team do the planning meeting.

            > 3) Number of communication paths is too many for people to manage.

            Are they all in one room?

            > At the start of the project the manager was concerned that team members
            > would miss out on key information if he split the teams.
            >
            > What have I missed?

            You're right that 15 people is a little on the large side. But it can
            be done.

            The original plan with my current team was to split into two. We
            finally had a meeting, and the consensus of the team was that, even
            given the disadvantages of the large team, it was better for a number of
            reasons over splitting into two.

            Have you considered bringing it up with the team rather than with just
            the manager?

            - George

            --
            ----------------------------------------------------------------------
            * George Dinwiddie * http://blog.gdinwiddie.com
            Software Development http://www.idiacomputing.com
            Consultant and Coach http://www.agilemaryland.org
            ----------------------------------------------------------------------
          • Sreedharan, Ashwanth (Ashwanth)
            I just finished reading this article http://www.infoq.com/resource/articles/scaling-lean-agile-feature-teams/
            Message 5 of 6 , Dec 1, 2008
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              It talks about having feature based teams and you can split your 15 member team (I assume 15 members include dev, test, analysts and not managers) into smaller feature teams.
               
              Thanks,
              Ashwanth


              From: scrumdevelopment@yahoogroups.com [mailto:scrumdevelopment@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Mark Levison
              Sent: Monday, December 01, 2008 10:00 PM
              To: scrumdevelopment@yahoogroups.com
              Subject: [scrumdevelopment] Team Size or reasons that we shouldn't allow teams to grow larger than 12

              Recently one of the teams in my area has grown to the size of 15 and I see its having an impact on them. Before I sit down with the manager in question and discuss the pitfalls of a team this size I wanted to make sure I have my ducks lined up.

              Off the top of my very tired brain here are the reasons I can think:
              1) Standup has become a sitdown and runs 30 minutes not 15.
              2) Planning meeting runs over four hours and team members don't feel everything is properly planned. Team members tend to dread these meetings.
              3) Number of communication paths is too many for people to manage.

              At the start of the project the manager was concerned that team members would miss out on key information if he split the teams.

              What have I missed?

              Cheers
              Mark Levison

              Blog: http://www.notesfro matooluser. com/
              Recent Entries: Agile/Scrum Smells:  http://www.notesfro matooluser. com/2008/ 06/agilescrum- smells.html
              Agile Games for Making Retrospectives Interesting: http://www.notesfro matooluser. com/2008/ 10/agile- games-for- making-retrospec tives-interestin g.html

            • Michael James
              ... To take this idea even further, in a *performing* team, members hold each other accountable to do greater things than they ve done before. To me it seems
              Message 6 of 6 , Dec 2, 2008
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                --- In scrumdevelopment@yahoogroups.com, "Mark Levison" <mark@...> wrote:

                > 3) Number of communication paths is too many for people to manage.

                To take this idea even further, in a *performing* team, members hold
                each other accountable to do greater things than they've done before.
                To me it seems less probable a team that's too big will become
                self managing to the same extent. Probably it will break itself
                into smaller cliques anyway, which may be fine.

                --mj
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