Winning the Concept to Cash Game with Feature Teams

Transforming a large organization to Agile is messy work and requires changes in organizational structure as well as mindset. On one hand we argue for a “bottom’s up“ approach requiring team self-organization; yet on the other hand, we talk about how organizational buy-in is necessary to achieve our (Shu-Ha-Ri) Ri-state nirvana. The reality is that the balance between team experimentation and organizational tolerance for the “fail fast” mentality is often strained. It is the space between these gaps where Agile growth can occur.

As an Agile Coach and Program Manager for a large organization, we embarked on a grand experiment to break existing product and engineering structures and form “feature teams”, driven by a charge to solve a series of problems independently. The journey from organizing a model with executive support to watching that idea bloom with possibilities allowed us to capture some powerful learnings about how this structure can work well for an organization. The unfortunate experience of losing that “top down” support gave us a different set of learnings that we want to share as a holistic picture of our experience report.

Martina Ziegenfuss Jim Elvidge
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