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How to develop an agile team

How to develop an agile team
Cooplexity Model / By Ricardo Zamora
Retrieved from: https://ricardozamora.com/how-to-develop-an-agile-team/
Cooplexity Model
An agile organisation will try to incorporate the agile methodology into its culture, based on
forming agile teams and using a specific technology. It is easy to understand that the key to
success lies in the team and especially in its capacity for self-coordination. An agile team
collectively assumes full responsibility for the success of its results in delivering to customers
and users. These teams are multifunctional, and they work collaboratively. They feel cohesive
and commit to defining the characteristics of the product to be delivered. Therefore, getting
teams to be self-coordinating is critical in the process. But, the central question is, how to
develop a team that is truly self-coordinating and has a high level of commitment?
The bad news is that it is not easy; the good news is that it is possible. You will need to
approach the challenge at three levels. At the individual level of attitudes and aptitudes. At the
group level with commitment and alignment. At the organisational level with cultural change.
The key factors in facilitating cultural integration and change, breaking down silos and
improving inter- and intra-team coordination, aligning objectives, and focusing the
organisation on customers will be:
1. The Objective: Innovation and Efficiency. Success in an ever-changing world means
adaptation by innovating and doing new things or being more efficient at doing the
same things with fewer resources.
2. The Key: Communication and Knowledge. Communication is understood as an
interactive process of building new realities. Knowledge is obtained through selfexperience and interaction.
3. The Energy: Entrepreneurship and Proactivity. In a time of uncertainty, it is riskier to
stay still than it is to move in the wrong direction. Proactivity, initiative and
experimentation will maintain the movement needed for us to adapt.
4. The Magnet: Teamwork and Commitment. The whole process of alignment of
business objectives achieves results by ensuring involvement and a focus on strategic
5. The Method: Distributed Leadership and Coordination. Distributed Leadership is
necessary to create the right conditions for the emergence of decentralised and
spontaneous self-coordination.
6. The Framework: Complexity and Uncertainty. Today’s interconnected, global society
has increased task interdependencies and, as a consequence, the issue of managing
complexity is now at the top of executive concerns.
Traditionally, decision-making and management have been founded on order, stability and
certainty. Managers are often neither trained nor accustomed to coping with unpredictable
events and conditions. The anxiety and bewilderment that come with conditions of uncertainty
and complexity are confusing and inhibiting, and so having a reference framework for inducing
changes in these situations is especially valuable.
The Cooplexity Model facilitates the implementation of an agile and collaborative culture
through six steps that work at individual, group and organisational levels. These steps are
closely inter-related and cannot be unbound from each other. To achieve a self-coordinated
team, all the steps must be completed, and all associated policies and procedures must be
consistent with each other across the individual, group and organisational levels.
Individual level
When gathering information, if there are no available references, this process is undertaken
through exploration and learning.
Adaptation is the result of a circular and constant process of experimenting, understanding
and modelling. Initiatives take on an essential role. Error tolerance through failure with limited
impact versus avoidance of failure becomes an indispensable companion.
Team level
When individuals interact in groups, long-term commitment is necessary to build a real team.
It is around a catalyst like a common project that members will share ideas and unify analysis
and enthusiasm will become contagious.
Cohesion is by far the most critical factor in teamwork. Considered as crucial by the majority of
researchers, it is a prerequisite for the achievement of full collaboration.
Organisational level
Empowering collaborators to make decisions through established mechanisms is necessary for
the emergence of decentralised and spontaneous self-coordination.
Self-coordination is the real enabler of effectiveness. The promotion of self-coordination, or
rather, the stimulus for its emergence, changes the traditional approach to management. It
turns from actions and decisions focused on the group to actions and decisions focused on the
context of the group. Creating adequate conditions to facilitate the emergence of selfcoordination instead of forcing predefined actions is fundamental to the model.
The collaboration culture necessary to boost an agile organisation affects the three levels of
the model and implies Tolerance of Error for individuals, aligning goals around a Common
Project for teams and a Decentralised Structure at the organisational level.
Ultimately, the objective is to empower skilled and motivated collaborators to make decisions
following the strategy, which means the emergence of full spontaneous collaboration.
From talent to leadership, from proactivity to entrepreneurial decisions and from
collaboration to innovation, the answer to a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous
(VUCA) world is teams.
Zamora Enciso, R. (2018). Cooplexity: A model of collaboration in complexity for management
in times of uncertainty and change (Third edit). Barcelona: Lulu.com. (Amazon)