X-Teams

State of mind

Teams have a rotating ambassadorial role, going out into the field and must network to facilitate their objectives

State of mind

Description

When a team manages to organise itself and industrialise its software development perfectly through defined roles and responsibilities with a real team spirit and clear objectives, it is nevertheless confronted with a glass ceiling. This limit is materialised by the inability to obtain credit from management or a vision of the product which is not very competitive on the market.

With agility, the decentralisation of decision making emerges [SAFe 2021-9] and confronts each team with its isolation in this global competitiveness that the organisation tries to overcome without a clear vision of all the problems the team is facing.

The traditional management model proposes answers based on team building and better organisation within the team. Agility, on the other hand, proposes a self-organised team which isolates the team even more in its mission. The work of Debora Ancona describes this situation perfectly [Ancona 2002]. Furthermore, in an organisation where the team is self-centred, Ancona describes what she calls a "vicious downward spiral" [Ancona 2007]:

  • the team suffers the needs of the market and reacts late rather than being proactive
  • the team gets stuck on already outdated battles and misses out on current trends
  • the organisation acts as a sounding board in which the team is unable to address external expectations
  • from the outside, the team appears to act as an adversary unable to understand or appreciate them
  • the team is in a situation of failure where it feels powerless and the blame is shifted among the team members while the environment is felt to be unfair.


In response to this situation, Ancona proposes an organisation and a team spirit called "X-Team".

An X-Team proposes that the team decentres itself and immerses itself in a more systemic approach [SAFe 2021-2] and that it is concerned with the environment in which it is immersed. This environment includes the following aspects :

  • the teams in the organisation with which the team evolves
  • the business actors external to the organisation (customers, users, experts, competitors, etc.)
  • the product to be produced
  • other comparable products
  • the standards and technologies recognised by the business.


Thus, the notion of the X-Team encourages the team to :

  • network in these spheres of influence in order to gather the elements that influence the quality of the product
  • play a representative role in these spheres in order to influence them, if only in terms of innovation

and is based in particular on a distribution of leadership.

Application to test maturity

The example of the "3 Amigos" practice provides an initial opening towards this necessity. Opening up the team to the plural context of the environment in which a User Story is used implies that the person who plays the role of tester should, at least out of empathy, take a back seat to the exchanges that take place during Sprint Refinement in order to get closer to the "right product" rather than a product that conforms to the expectations of a Product Owner whose point of view is biased by his own vision of the product.

By extension, the team must invest the ecocycles [Moustier 2020] of the multiple environmental aspects in which it finds itself, these facets then improve the quality of the product.

Agilitest's position on this practice

Agilitest contributes to the transformation of a team focused on itself into an X-Team through the use of ubiquitous language in the scripts initiated during the Sprint Refinement.

Similarly, when testers are tasked with automating end-to-end testing of features produced by different teams, the application of the "X-Team" practice is inevitable to allow synchronization [SAFe 2021-7] of tests for a given release.

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© Christophe Moustier - 2021