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No More Self-Organizing Teams?

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On his Cutter Consortium blog, Jim Highsmith suggested that the term self-organizing team "has outlived its usefulness in the agile community and needs to be replaced".  He suggests that Light-Touch Leadership is more appropriate.  But does this negate the need for self-organizing teams and the focus on individual team members "doing what it takes" to get things done?

Highsmith believes that the term self-organizing team is misunderstood to imply chaotic or leaderless teams. 

So what words do we use to bring the concept of self-organizing back from the brink of anarchy and return it to the realm of empowering, servant leadership rather than no leadership? In my first book, Adaptive Software Development , I used the term Leadership-Collaboration management to replace the concept of Command-Control management. This book went into great depth about the concepts of leaders (as in a person) and leadership (as in any team member can provide situational leadership) as an active part of an agile community and what that leadership model looked like. In his book, Managing Agile Projects , author and Cutter Senior Consultant Sanjiv Augustine also addresses this issue and calls for management to have a “Light-Touch.” The more I think about Augustine’s term, the more I like it, so I’ll offer a combination term to replace self-organizing: Light-Touch Leadership.

But this is inconsistent with others in the field who believe that self-organizing teams are probably one of the major factors of success in any high-performance teams.  In fact, many of us have taken it for granted and "self-organizing team" has become part of our language.  For example:

Jim Highsmith is one of the thought-leaders of the Agile community.  Is the notion of self-organizing teams no longer useful?  Or, perhaps, is it still very important and the fact that it is seen as "chaotic" is a normal growing pain in transitioning to high-performance teams?

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