Friday, November 13, 2009

Coaching Self Organizing Teams

At QCon London 2009, Jospeh Pelrine gave a talk about coaching self organizing teams. The main point behind the talk was a metaphor comparing coaching to cooking chicken soup. The team is the ingredients and the coach is the cook. The cook has to constantly control the heat. There are several stages:

1. Burning (stressed, burn out, keep fighting).

2. Cooking (border of chaos or anarchy). This is when the team is most creative.

3. Stagnating. What was good is becoming bad and moldy. People stop coming to meetings, no one writes tests, and everybody is procrastinating.

4. Congealing. It’s like jelly. There is still some flexibility, but it is starting to take hard shape. Team is disinterested, there is no ongoing discussion.

5. Solid/Frozen. This is the way things get done here, 9 to 5, no initiative, do my job and leave.

The high and low stages show similar behavior patterns. The key is to control the heat and to keep the team cooking by managing time and tasks.

This presentation is available on InfoQ at