In my last post I wrote about Large Scale Scrum (LeSS) and how feature teams were a key element of the framework for me.
One of the concerns that was raised in comments was how will team members react, in particular will the reduced emphasis on specialisation challenge team members sense of identity? Will the change be too fast or too disruptive?
When I think of companies that are successfully using many feature teams and have great culture I think of Atlassian and REA, and one of their most visible practices is their regular ShipIt Day aka Hack Day.
My experience participating in Hack Day at REA has stuck with me, and when a client asked recently how to introduce feature teams, I suggested they start with a ShipIt Day. All going well, this could be followed by a pilot of one or two feature teams before any wider adoption.
The thinking behind using a ShipIt Day to ease the way to feature teams was that it would be a chance to try out out feature teams for a day in a safe context, and to give them a chance at running a team self-selection event. It would give teams a try at self-organising across disciplines at the same time. I also suggested that allowing team members to volunteer to work in a team instead of being assigned to the team by a manger would build more buy-in for similar team structures in the future.
If you like this idea, here are some resources for running a ship-it-day:
- Convincing the execs: Why run a hack day? and 10 reasons you should run a FedEx day
- REA's Hack-day 101
- Hack-day facilitators: hackdays.com.au
- Case studies: Xero, Atlassian (19 min video), Atlassian Ship-It Day in the wild
- Scrum.org whitepaper (pdf) Everything you need to know about FedEx Day
All going well, the next stage would be using a self selection event to create a pilot feature team around a high value product area and using an urgent cross-component feature as the motivation for trying out the new team structure.
Resources for running a self-selection event:
I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on ship-it-days and moving to feature teams. If you would like to have a chat with me you can book a catchup online here.