Category: Organisations and systems

Team Taxonomies for digital, data and technology organisations

Reading Time: 3 minutes

I have been working with digital, data, and technology organisations for a long time, many of which are in UK government departments. One thing that I have seen people get tripped up on is how they describe teams. 

Ambiguity about what a team is can create tensions, rework, and confusion and ultimately get in the way of the work.

To help, I’ve been developing a team taxonomy so that some of my clients and their teams can have better conversations about differences and similarities and hint at the expectations of interactions. This post shares these taxonomies in case they are useful to others, too.

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Why can’t we all just get along? (again)

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Back in November last year I wrote up a talk I gave at Lean Agile Brighton called Why can’t we all just get along?

I’ve given the talk at a few more conferences and written it up as an article on InfoQ called Bridging Silos and Overcoming Collaboration Antipatterns in Multidisciplinary Organisations. The most recent time I spoke about it was at Seacon in London, and that 20-minute talk is here; enjoy!

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Why can’t we all just get along?

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I initially gave this talk at Lead Agile Brighton in October 2022, then updated and refined the slide deck for Agile Manchester in May 2023, so I’ve updated this post too.

I’ve noticed an increasingly worrying trend in the industry of focus on specialisms at the expense of collaboration, shared responsibility and valuable outcomes.

There might be many reasons for this, from organisational structures, changing workforces or uncertainty in the world. However, this trend can create silos across departments, between roles, and even in teams.

These silos mean that all the value from a multidisciplinary team is lost, people get pigeonholed, and we lose focus on creating valuable outcomes for our users.

In this post, I will explore this trend, some reasons we might be seeing it, and some approaches and techniques to break those silos down to work together.

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A profession and a community of practice are different – but brilliant together

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** updated 11th June 2024 to clarify some definitions **

I have worked with Communities of Practice in organisations for many years. One recent trend I have seen is people using the term community when they mean the more formal construct of a profession and vice versa.

When organisations overlook the attributes of a community, they miss out on what makes a community of practice magic.

When they expect a community to fulfil the role of a profession, people get left behind. This post will explain some of those differences.

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The Team Onion. How many pizzas does it really take to feed your team?

Reading Time: 5 minutes

The Team Onion now has a new home at

**UPDATE** The Agile Team Onion is now the Team Onion, same model slightly new name. Because you don’t need to be an agile team to use it.

I’ve recently been playing with ways of explaining the extended team for large and largeish organisations. I get frustrated when I see Agile teams that are essentially siloed off from the wider business (for many reasons). This causes dependency and communication issues and means they just aren’t able to deliver anything very quickly. I don’t think the answer is just to throw everyone in together as it’s not always that practical and can cause its own communication issues as the team gets really big. I’ve been using the team onion to describe a model of how it might work.

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