Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Team Neutral

I have a client who has outgrown their scrum team. Daily standups are taking longer and longer, and the team doesn't really fit into their room very well at all. Sprint planning is getting more and more... fun, too. And by fun I mean long.

So we're splitting the teams. Going forward, we will have two functionally equivalent teams. First order of business: a team name!

Sounds simple, right? Nope, not so much. Let's back up for a second.

This isn't the first client I've had who's split teams. The last client that split wound up with three teams needing names. And then the fun started. One team suggested greek alphabet as a theme. They would, of course, be Team Alpha. The second team would be Team Beta. The third team would be Team Omega. Team Beta was particularly unamused. Another team suggested a theme of 80's TV shows. They would be Miami Vice (cool cars!). The second team would be Growing Pains. The third team would be the Golden Girls (this team, incidentally had no women). Neither team was amused. The third team suggested a simple numbering system. They would be team 1. Someone else would be team 2. And the last team would be team 3. The squabbling continued.

It took about three weeks to land on colors as a relatively neutral theme. Granted, this was an extreme example of a group that collectively contained some pretty fragile egos and a highly developed sense of hierarchy.

The underlying point is interesting, though. It's useful to give teams names. After all, we have to refer to them somehow. It's also fun to let teams pick their own names.


Make sure those names are neutral and don't imply positioning or relative importance in any way. Neutral things like colors, places, video games, and others are a good idea. And make sure every team gets to pick their own name.

One day, I'll get to be on Team Neutral. Until then, you can find me on Team has-a-neutral-name.

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