Organisational patterns

12 Nov 2013
Submitted by croga

Early this year I took a Certified Scrum Master training. This course was taught by a tandem of my colleague Julya van Berkel (@AgileJulya) and James "Cope" Coplien (@jcoplien). James is a prominent member of the Scrum Foundation and well known for his work on Organisational patterns (see http://www.scrumplop.org/).

Earlier this week I was watching a video on YouTube where James explained why Scrum will be moving more and more toward an Organisational patterns-based platform (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LYsl19xEvzM - watch it!) and was thinking to myself "Yeah... we've been doing this in programming for a long time, doing it in organising that programming is the next logical step. But why is it so powerful?"The basis of the power of pattern usage lies in the human "Bucket of attention". There have been a lot of studies over the years as to how human attention works. The first conclusion was: There's only one stream of attention. If you have to give attention to multiple things at the same time, stuff goes wrong. The second, and more important, conclusion was: The amount of attention anyone has during one day is limited. Use too much attention in the morning and you will lose focus in the afternoon.

Now let's project this onto the process of software development. During a day the team will run into different challenges. Every challenge will require the team's attention and this always goes to the detriment of the actual programming. If every challenge could be met with an organisational pattern that has been proven in the past then the team does not need to spend as much attention and thus can spend their attention to actual programming. Withing Scrum the term Hyperproductivity is always mentioned. Hyperproductivity is achieved when the speed of creation of value is increased to a point that was unimaginable in the past. One factor in achieving this is to make sure the Team can focus on their primary task: Creating value. By implementing proven organisational patterns, attention focus is taken away from issues and challenges and put into creating value.