We just completed the second kick-off meeting of a new project and are now in the frustrating dilemma of having too many volunteers, with other projects on the horizon.

Working with part-time volunteers, scattered around the globe, we try very hard to embrace the lean software pillar “respect for people”. The pillar enforces concepts such as family>job>rangers, makes us realise that it is the warmware (humanoids) doing the invaluable work, sharing passion and experience in technology, and introduces an immense respect for the individual and the team.

huh? how can you have too many volunteers for a project?

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Based on experience within our environment, see ALM Rangers — Reflections on Virtual Teams for details, we feel that the ideal project team consists of <10 active and focused members. Once the team exceeds this limit or contains inactive (dark) members, the program manager and project lead overhead becomes counter-productive and introduces friction with the “respect for people” pillar.

  • Active –> a team member that does not go dark, collaborates actively and is seen as a team member, not as an infrequent visitor.
  • Focused –> a team member that is focused on one Ranger project in terms of the developer/contributor role. It is feasible being a reviewer on more than one part-time, distributed and virtual team, but not recommended.

We currently recommend the following:

  • The product owner (PO), program manager (PM) and project lead (PL) are seen as the core and not included in the team count.
  • Pair 1-5 active ad focused developers/contributors to work with 1-4 active/semi-active reviewers, giving us virtual 1-5 pairs and <10 active members.
  • When active members go inactive due to family>job>rangers  or other circumstances, reduce the scope for the current sprint and call for new volunteers for the next sprint.

how do we select the team if we have to many volunteers?

If and only if we have too many volunteers we prioritise:

  • Contributors who have the required skills and experience needed by the team.
  • Reviewers who have the required experience or are bringing specialised skills such as strategic alignment or copy-editing.

On the other hand we de-prioritise:

  • Contributors who are active on other projects. Remember one project and one story at a time!
  • Contributors who have also volunteers for another project, where they are considered to be crucial.
  • Contributors and reviewers who have shown a tendency of going dark during projects.

what is the perfect team?


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I often watch my boys play soccer … in fact I spend most of my non-IT time at the soccer field watching them chase a ball around the field. Wondering why we do not just give everyone a ball and looking for analogies with Ranger teams.

  • In a game where they play as one, think as one and most importantly collaborate continuously, they are unbeatable. They deliver a “WOW” event to watch and meet the acceptance criteria of their coach … they win the game Smile
  • In a game where one or more have to play in an unfamiliar role due to injuries or missing players, a temporary player joins the team, or there is limited communication, the same team presents a “NAIL-BITING” event to watch and seldom meet the definition of done (DoD).

It is evident that communication, collaboration and trust in the team by each member and vice versa is key to a successful team. We are bound to challenging constraints and an ever changing world, making it impossible to define the “perfect” team. However, we instinctively know and observe the teams we would love to me part of.

what about program scrub and renewal?

Remember that the year-end recognition and renewal is based on your current and previous years!

This is to ensure that there are enough projects, flights, ships, adventures and opportunities for everyone to engage actively with the community.

Examples are included in the Ruck guide!

what should I do if I am not on the ship sailing out of the harbo[u]r?

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  • Do not despair! We have more opportunity than bandwidth!
  • Look for other project opportunities!
  • Always listen for a call for help from teams! All our resources are uncommitted by default and therefore team changes are inevitable.

You are never left behind clip_image001, but spread across other projects  clip_image002!

Thoughts? Feedback? Please ping me or add your comments below.