Joseph Pelrine - Coaching and coaxing self-organising teams


Self-organisation is one of the most misunderstood concepts used in agile practice. If people really understood the dynamics of self-organising systems, they most probably would avoid trying to use it. Instead, they (mis-)apply some ideas, close their eyes, wish real hard, hope that magic happens, and then use the term “unintended consequences” to describe the result.

In spite of this fact, the ideal of the “self-organising team” is fundamental to Agile methods. Agile coaches are constantly challenged with how to motivate / persuade / trick their teams into self-organising and doing things, without telling them what to do, but there is very little information or training on this topic. Allowing a team to self-organise along the lines of "oh well, they're all adults, they'll figure it out" is just as irresponsible as reverting to the command-and control school of management. So, how should one go about it?

The goal of this workshop is to provide you with both the answers to that question, and with the tools you need to do the job. In this workshop, we’ll explore what self-organisation actually is and why teams don’t self-organise, and we’ll discuss what self-organisation will do to and for your teams. You’ll then learn practical techniques from social complexity science and social psychology that will help you achieve the benefits of self-organisation without suffering the unintended consequences of it.

Learning Objectives:

  • Coaching, coaxing, and subtle interventions
  • Understanding self-organisation and self-assembly
  • Social psychology, complexity, and the Lewin equation
  • Explicit and implicit roles
  • Core group theory
  • Dissipative processes and the Heat model
  • Theory and practice of the various models:
    • The gas model
    • The Flow model
    • The ABIDE model