“No-Brainer” Self-Management Practices in Agile
The Agile practices related to self-management include:
- whole teams
- short iterations
- using a scrum master
- using a product owner
- user stories
- maintaining a product backlog
- assignment of tasks by team members
- estimation of tasks by team members
- producing a burn down chart
Simplifying and Redistributing the Management Load
Let’s start with a simple example: task assignment. Traditionally, tasks are assigned to engineers by their manager. In Agile, tasks are selected by the engineers themselves. It may take some time for everybody to get used to this and to work out the kinks, but the practice itself is not particularly earth-shattering.
Certainly, somebody may find themselves struggling with a task they don’t fully understand, or one engineer may accomplish a task more slowly than whoever the manager might have chosen to do the task. But is that really all that different than what typically happens when the work is assigned by a manager? How likely is it that a manager has enough time to devote to the minutia required to optimize task assignment? Wouldn’t it be better for the manager to spend their time mentoring team members on how to pick tasks that are appropriate for them while at the same time encouraging engineers to stretch their capabilities?