Coaching self-organizing teams

Presenters: Joseph Pelrine and Ben Fuchs

Objective(s) of the session:

Session participants will receive an understanding of the dynamics involved in social self-organization, and will be taught a number of leading-edge tools and techniques for optimizing team performance and reaching cohesion without influencing the self- organizing process.

Intended audience and prerequisites:

Agile coaches, or anyone experienced in agile processes who is interested in finding out why they work and how to make them work better


Self-organization of human beings is a tricky thing. Agile coaches, especially ScrumMasters, are constantly challenged with how to motivate/persuade/trick their teams into self-organizing 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- organize 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? This tutorial presents an approach utilizing leading- edge research and techniques from social complexity science and team dynamics to change the dynamics of a team with the aim of optimizing their work together.


An introduction to socially complex systems and self-organization

  • Social complexity and team dynamics
  • Rank and Power issues
  • Influence and Persuasion
Sense-making models and techniques

  • The Stacey model
  • The Cynefin model
Understanding cognitive bias

Intervention models and techniques

  • The Heat model
  • The ABIDE model
  • The Flow model
Motivation theory

Social network analysis and stimulation

Case studies and real-world applications

Format and length:

This tutorial will be held as a talk interspersed with exercises and discussion, allowing us to address real needs of attendees. Due to the nature of the topic, and of the exercises, attendance will be limited to 50 people.