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1 April 2010

Role assignment to teams

One of the secrets to success for many successful project managers is a tight breakdown of roles and responsibilities.

(If you aren't familiar with the Role Assignment Matrix (which is probably a clearer and less ambiguous technique than a RASCI) you can read more about it here and here.)

So, what's up for a scrum team?  How do you assign responsibilities to a group of people?  By making everyone responsible aren't we making no-one responsible?  Isn't this the underlying problem behind the tragedy of the commons?

Well, no actually.  Because people are part of a community.  And groups can be accountable.

What does matter is the size of the group and the culture that links them.  Small groups are better able to build a strong culture.  People talk about groups of 5-9 as optimal sizes for working together on common tasks. After that size the communication overhead breaks down.  And so does the group identity. All of a sudden there are two groups, and divergences in culture start to emerge as people identify with one group over another.

But.

Small teams can be accountable for outcomes.  And of the culture is supportive, large groups can work well together also.  Use judgement to size a team.  See if there are groups or factions emerging and think about breaking it into multiple teams.

Picture by Cirne, cc @ Flickr.