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At the intersection of Legos, Agile and SOA

So your Agile teams aren’t working as efficiently as you’d like. Maybe you have specialists spread too thinly through your teams, or your product is just to big and broad for a traditional organization. It’s SOA and Legos to the rescue — really.

At an Agile 2016 seminar in Atlanta this week, speakers Catherine Louis and Raj Mudhar presented their ideas to make Agile team reorganization easy and visual. The concept — “Whole Team Dynamic Organizational Modeling” — is a bit of a mouthful but it’s based on service oriented architecture principles. And it uses Legos, paper, Sharpies and your imagination.

Louis and Mudhar asked each table to decide on a problem, then create a key where each color Lego represented a part of the team. At our table, white Legos were DevOps folks, purple were DBAs, etc. Then the idea is to simply create a Lego team and see how it works by doing some creative role playing. Using the Sharpie you can actually draw how communication and requests happen between teams and you’ll almost instantly see why something works, or doesn’t. In some teams a single team member may wear several hats (scrum master or acting product owner) and it’s easy to see that because one Lego is covered by another.

The service oriented architecture comes in at this point because for most companies, a single “team” really can’t have every skill needed. So by creating “pools” of scarce talent (again using Legos), you can visualize how those pools can be used by the teams to improve the flow.

The participants at our table agreed that this low key and fun strategy might be a good way to broach the subject of reorganization without putting stress or pressure on anyone. If you’d like to learn more about using SOA (and Legos) to reorganize your team, Louis and Mudhar have a website with resources.