Mar 02, 2022 | 3 min read

Best Practices for Promoting Self-Organizing Teams

By: Merari Zuniga

Best Practices for Promoting Self-Organizing Teams

The key element to successfully implement Scrum in an Agile environment is a self-organizing team. This transformation is essential for building a productive, effective, and happy development team. It’s also the most challenging because most people are used to traditional management directing them and making decisions. Here are a few reminders to help the Scrum Master develop a high-functioning, self-organized team.

Characteristics of a Self-Organizing Team

The Scrum Guide mentions self-organization several times. Here are some of the examples:

  • Scrum Teams are cross-functional, meaning the members have all the skills necessary to create value for each Sprint. They are also self-managing, meaning they internally decide who does what, when, and how.
  • The Developers can select whatever structure and techniques they want, as long as their Daily Scrum focuses on progress toward the Sprint Goal and produces an actionable plan for the next day of work. This autonomy creates focus and improves self-management.
  • The Scrum Team is structured and empowered by the organization to manage its own work.

How to Promote Self-Organization

It sounds easy in theory, but how can the Scrum Master, a Servant Leader, promote and encourage self-organization?


If the team is new to Agile, the first recommendation is to provide them with the tools to understand the mindset and the importance of becoming a self-organizing team. A comprehensive training program can help team members understand what a self-organizing team is and how it works. Once they are clear with the basic framework, they’ll be able to practice the essential principles of commitment, confidence, communication, and collaboration in their teams.


As per Scrum guidelines, the most efficient and capable Scrum team member to solve a specific problem is the one who needs to solve it. Instead of micro-managing, the Scrum Master supports and offers guidance as and when required. Gradually, team members will start taking ownership of their work, building trust, and collaborating. Over time, the self-organizing teams will be able to function independently.

Set Goals

Imagine you purchased your vehicle because it has a state-of-the-art navigation system, and you are excited this system will help you map out the most efficient routes for your next road trip. However, you still need to set the destination in your navigation system; otherwise, you will not be using the system to its full capacity.

Setting goals is the most important best practice. Without a goal in mind, the team will not have enough information to know how to best support the product owner to achieve the final destination and, therefore, will not be able to make informed decisions to remove blockers. Make sure the goal is clear to the team.

Self-Organizing Best Practices

In summary, the best practices to keep in mind when guiding your team through the process of becoming a self-organizing team are:

  • Influence the team to address their issues and impediments using their own experience and knowledge, but do not take over.
  • Give the team the right tools and goals that support taking action.
  • Be available.
  • Be a practical hardliner; the scrum team needs it!
  • Remember that the Scrum Master acts as a Servant Leader, coaching, supporting, and removing obstacles for the Development Team so that they can resolve their own problems and conflicts.

It’s important to remember that no team is ever the same, so be curious and experiment with different approaches to help the teams become self-organizing over time.

If you need help guiding your team through the bumpy road, contact the Agile experts at DragonSpears.

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