Diversity, Social Complexity and Collaboration in Agile Teams
To build agility and deliver products faster than their competitors, companies are adopting ‘Agile’ framework. Hence, an enormous emphasis has been placed on collaboration among diverse, geographically distributed, multi-cultural teams. There is an ample opportunity to explore the social cohesion generated by diversity during team interaction and its effect on project outcome. The interaction exhibits unique patterns. When we apply system thinking and complexity theory approach we can trace social cohesion in team interactions.
Social cohesion can be defined as ‘Stuck to’ factor, interpersonal attraction, group pride and task commitment, tendency to stay united under a common goal. Because of the cohesion, we develop a group identity. Collaboration can be defined as a process of joint decision making among the stakeholders of a problem domain about the future of the domain. The group engages itself through exploration for a solution and in collective action of implementing the solution. The cohesion and its correlation to group performance are well established by researchers. As noted in my observational data, there could be multiple, ‘binding factors’ that create social cohesion among the members of the teams.
a) How binding factors lead to social cohesion in large distributed Agile teams?
b) What is the effect of social cohesion on collaboration?
c) Can there be an intervention to diffuse or induce social cohesion for increased collaboration?
This field-based research concluded that there is a strong correlation between cohesion and collaboration. When teams do exhibit cohesion as a unified larger identity, the collaboration between them increases. However, if the cohesion is only within the teams (intra-team cohesion but not inter-team cohesion) the level of collaboration decreases.
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