One thing that came up in the retrospectives as a good thing a few times in my previous team was working in war teams. So what is a war team? To us it meant that whenever we ran into some kind of problem, a difficult bug, a big design challenge or similar we format war teams. Sometimes the war team was two people and sometimes it was the whole team. The war team focused on solving that single problem and nothing else. So what we said in the retrospects was that working in these teams was better than when everybody was working on their own tasks. I guess the explanation was that it was a great satisfaction in solving a difficult problem and also it is great working together with others. And this was in an environment where the team was sitting together in an open landscape and not in separate rooms.

What that taught us was to do as much pairing as possible when completing tasks. To be honest, it is hard to teach old dogs to sit and I guess that is why it came back in the retrospects from time to time. So what made me think about this today was that I stumbled over this old article about war rooms. It compares teams where each team member sits in their own cubicle compared to teams sitting together. I think that is the basic start to make any team more productive (more suggestions here). But once you have your team in the same room you want the team members to scramble around a few tasks rather than working on different things. As the article about war rooms point out; the team might say they don't like it but once they try it, they will probably love it...