Agile Team Staffing

Agile team staffing is about staffing your agile teams and managing the talents of the teams not just the people. So, how do you create agile teams where the members trust each other? Keeping the same teams over a longer period will help teams develop transactive memory and trust. But of course there is an idea that the ideal solution is to pick new teams with the perfect people in them for each shorter or longer project.

Gardeners in the Software Ecosystem

Software engineers like to think of themselves as gardeners whose job is to encourage software products to grow into a beautiful software ecosystem. Not so long ago, I introduced the idea that agile software development practices are like the simple yet unbendable rules that govern an ant hill. In both cases emergence explains the results. Can emergence inform us on agile team staffing as well?

The Agile Team is the Garden

Today, I would like to introduce another new concept in agile team staffing. What if software developers are not like gardeners but like plants? If that is true, then teams are like gardens. But what kind of plants and what kind of gardens should we grow? How should we handle our agile staffing?

Agile Team Staffing in the Bonsai Forest

SD3217 : Southport Flower Show 2006 by Alan Pennington

A Bonsai Garden at the Southport Flower Show © Copyright Alan Pennington and licensed for reuse under a Creative Commons Licence (click for details).

You would hope that we grow software development professionals (gardeners) like Bonsai trees, not like weeds. A Bonsai tree is groomed carefully over many years while always striving for perfection but never quite reaching it. Weeds on the other hand just kind of spring up in our gardens and we will ignore them until they become too thorny or too much of a nuisance. Then we will remove them. I guess not everyone can grow into a Bonsai tree but a Bonsai weed is still better than any other weed.


If we create a team of Bonsai trees we call it a Bonsai forest. A forest is undoubtedly stronger, more resilient and more interesting than an individual tree. So are teams. But do you create teams by moving around potted plants every few months? Perhaps if it is for a temporary show garden and some form of beauty contest but not if you are creating a strong, resilient forest. Of course you might need to add or remove trees in a real forest but that is something you do sparingly and with great consideration. Let’s see if we can develop strong Bonsai forests instead of individual potted plants that we move around for show. If we do, we will have the perfect agile team staffing solution, won’t we?

Image sources

About Greger Wikstrand

Greger Wikstrand, Ph.D. M.Sc. is a TOGAF 9 certified enterprise architect with an interest in e-heatlh, m-health and all things agile as well as processes, methods and tools. Greger Wikstrand works as a consultant at Capgemini where he alternates between enterprise agile coaching, problem solving and designing large scale e-health services ...


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