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The Six Essential Characteristics of Self Organized Agile Teams

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“What’s on your plate today?” my manager asked during standup. 

It was my third day at Prakya, and though I had some past exposure to corporate culture, I found myself judging the question a bit. Coming from academia, this kind of inquiry wasn’t quite normal for me. Firstly, I wasn’t used to such open-ended questions. Secondly, I held the assumption that all corporate bosses typically dictate a list of tasks and deadlines. Something felt different here. Not wanting to jump to conclusions, I asked, “Do you have anything specific for me?” 

My manager (by “manager,” I mean someone who facilitates problem-solving and fosters creativity) quickly clarified, “No, I thought you would figure out what you want to do. At Prakya, we value self-direction and self-organization. 

While I understood the literal meaning of these terms, it entirely changed my perception towards workflow and teams value. I even learnt that there is an ongoing debate about self-organized teams being a myth, especially for large groups. Imagine 50-60 people all self-directed – it seems unrealistic. Different work styles require different approaches; some people thrive with minimal instruction, while others need detailed guidance. 

However, Agile teams offer a different perspective. These cross-functional groups typically consist of ten or fewer skilled individuals. Their smaller size is the key. They possess specific skills relevant to a particular project or deliverables. These technical teams focus on building solutions in short iterations with rapid customer feedback. Their ability to learn quickly, assess results, and adapt makes micromanagement unnecessary. The team itself is driven by a specific objective. 

Agile teams are self-organized groups that manage themselves and are responsible for delivering what customers and stakeholders need. They are the building blocks of larger development projects, like the Agile Release Train (ART), and work together to achieve shared goals. Agile teams help define the overall vision and plan, participate in key events, and even create a system (the Continuous Delivery Pipeline) to ensure a steady stream of value. 

As Agile teams stick together for longer periods, this eliminates the inefficiencies of constantly starting and stopping projects. Agile leaders provide guidance and direction but empower teams to make their own decisions. This unleashes individual creativity, boosts team morale, and makes work more enjoyable for everyone. As a result, Agile teams become more self-directed, self-reliant, and outperform groups of unconnected individuals, becoming highly productive, engaged units. 

The Six Key Characteristics of Self Organized Agile Teams

Agile teams are self-sufficient units.

They are a cross functional team of experts who are needed to turn an idea into reality, from planning to launch. Everyone focuses solely on their team’s goals, avoiding delays caused by switching between tasks or relying on other departments. In short, agile teams can: 

  • Define Features: They figure out what customers need and design features that address those needs. 
  • Build the solution: They have all the skills required to create the final product. 
  • Test Quality: They test everything thoroughly to make sure it works well. 
  • Deploy: They release new features incrementally so customers can benefit from them quickly. 

The Agile Value Stream: Delivering what matters, efficiently.

According to The SAFe principle #10, organizing around value emphasizes building teams focused on one key outcome: continuously providing value to customers. To achieve this, SAFe recommends four main ways to structure Agile Teams: 

  • Customer-Centric Teams: Focused on the end customer, these teams handle everything needed to deliver complete value. 
  • Specialized Teams: Organized around complex technical areas, they tackle highly specialized tasks, reducing overall team complexity. 
  • Platform Teams: These teams build and maintain reusable services and APIs that customer-centric teams can leverage. 
  • Support Teams: They provide tools, services, and short-term expertise to other teams. 

Agile Teams are Highly Performing.

Just putting talented people together isn’t enough for an Agile team to excel. How the team works together is just as important, if not more. While individual skills matter, a team’s ability to function as a unit has a greater impact on success.
Here are the hallmarks of high-performing Agile teams: 

  • Shared Vision and Goals: Everyone’s on the same page with clear objectives and a common purpose. 
  • Psychological Safety: Team members feel comfortable taking risks and offering ideas without fear of judgment. 
  • Diverse Strengths: The team possesses a variety of skills and knowledge to make quick, well-informed decisions. 
  • Mutual Trust and Respect: Healthy debate is encouraged, and team members rely on each other to deliver. 
  • Accountability: Each person is responsible for high-quality work, both to the team and the organization. 
  • Reliability: Commitments are met consistently. 
  • Big Picture Thinking: Team members understand how their work contributes to the broader organizational goals. 
  • Enjoyment: They find their work and collaboration fulfilling. 

Two key roles supercharge Agile Teams.

Product Owner (PO): The PO helps define the team’s vision, roadmap, and work priorities. They collaborate with both customers and the team to create a backlog that addresses customer needs while maintaining the product’s technical health. 

Scrum Master/Team Coach (SM/TC): This role ensures Agile practices are followed effectively, helps the team improve its performance, and partners with the Release Train Engineer (RTE) to streamline the entire ART’s workflow. The SM/TC’s specific skills adapt based on the team’s chosen Agile framework Scrum or Kanban to facilitate optimal implementation. 

Fast and reliable delivery is every Agile Team’s goal.

They achieve this through two key elements: 

An Operating Model: Team chooses an operating model such as Scrum or Kanban, each providing a set of practices like events, communication, and workflow rules.

Team Accelerators: Agile principles guide the team to maximize value delivery. Here’s what they involve: 

  • Working in small chunks: Breaking down tasks into smaller, manageable pieces. 
  • Limiting work in progress: Avoiding overloading the team by keeping the number of active tasks under control. 
  • Identifying and clearing bottlenecks: Addressing any roadblocks that slow down progress. 
  • Regularly evaluating product and processes: Reflecting on what’s working well and what can be improved. 


As you’ve seen, empowered Agile teams are highly effective at delivering value. But fostering this type of environment requires the right tools and support systems. 

Prakya is an AI-powered Unified Work Management Platform that provides a powerful suite of features specifically designed to support Agile teams. Whether your team uses Scrum, Kanban, or a hybrid approach, Prakya’s Scrumban allows you to manage your entire workflow in one centralized location. 

Here’s how Prakya can empower your Agile teams: 

  • Enhanced Transparency and Collaboration: Prakya fosters clear communication and visibility into project progress. 
  • Streamlined Workflows: Manage tasks, sprints, and backlogs with ease, focusing on delivering value faster. 
  • Improved Efficiency: Prakya’s AI-powered features help identify bottlenecks and optimize workflows for maximum productivity. 
  • Boosted Team Morale: A user-friendly platform makes work management less stressful and more collaborative. 

To learn more and experience the Prakya difference, visit our website ( to see how Prakya can help your Agile teams achieve peak performance.