Cooperation & Collaboration in Scrum

The first value of the Agile Manifesto is ” Individuals and interactions over processes and tools”. Its third value is “Customer collaboration over contract negotiation”. In his book “Agile Analytics”, Ken Collier discusses the concepts of cooperation and collaboration in Agile.

Cooperation between group members involves the smooth transfer of work in progress, work products, and information from one member to another. The team has a shared commitment to a common outcome, and individuals coordinate their activities in ways that support other group members. In a cooperative team, members interact in an egoless manner and understand their individual roles as they relate to the group’s objectives.

Collaboration elevates groups beyond cooperation, adding an essential ingredient for emergent, innovative, and creative thinking. With cooperation, the properties of the group’s output can be traced back to individuals, whereas with collaboration, the properties of group output exceed anything that could have been achieved individually. When a team is truly collaborating, its members build on top of each other’s ideas, and the collective result is beyond what any one member could have envisioned. Cooperation is a prerequisite to collaboration.

Source: “Agile Analytics : a value-driven approach to business intelligence and
data warehousing
“, Ken Collier, Addison-Wesley

Cooperation & Collaboration in Scrum

Transitioning from individual responsibility to collective ownership of the product is one of the key challenges of Agile approaches like Scrum. In his book, Ken Collier cites Lyssa Adkins. In her book “Coaching Agile Teams” she wrote “group cooperation yields the sum of its parts, while collaboration yields a sum that is greater than its parts”.

The interaction status has to be assessed and improved both internally in the Scrum development team and in its relationships with other stakeholders like the customers. Trust is an essential part of achieving good collaboration and creating a high level of trust between all stakeholders should be the main goal of the ScrumMasters and the managers of Agile teams. We should however recognize that this requires time and the delivery of meaningful results from the team and valuable feedback from the customers. The transition period could be even longer if you are just adopting Agile and you were formerly organized in “silos” where all functions where working separately.

Further reading on cooperation and collaboration in Scrum

* Cooperative or Collaborative Agile Teams?
* Defining and Achieving True Collaboration
* Chaos, Cooperation and Collaboration
* Teamwork in Agile
* Opening Communication within a Scrum Team

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