I love metaphors, they can help you to understand a situation better.
Yet sometimes we can take a metaphor to far.

Imagine what would happen if you would design a plane for a self-organizing team.
No need for a flightcrew, and the passengers fly themselves.

That is what this video is about. Oh yes I’m well aware, that it’s not the best metaphor to think about a self-organizing team. Yet, I am convinced this metaphor could help us to think differently about a self-organizing team…

9 Responses to “A plane to fly with an agile team”

  1. Dave Rooney says:

    Visual management indeed, not to mention tactile feedback… you don’t necessarily need an instrument (i.e. a tool) to know, “Uh, I think we’re upside down!” πŸ™‚

    That said, the activities of a modern multi-person cockpit crew are very much based on trust, community agreements and constant communication. Command & control in the cockpit is as dysfunctional and even as dangerous as when applied to teams of people ‘on the ground’.


  2. yhanoulle says:

    haha Dave, True. And yes a self-organizing pilot teams, is different from letting the customer fly…

  3. Monika says:

    Agile plane… interesting metaphor… It explains the need of being self-organized and in control of the whole project as well as quick feedback loop (visualisation + pretty fast result of bad decision πŸ˜‰ )

    What about making those bad (==harmful) decisions? In case of plane the team just crash… no way to revert it… in software it’s a bit safer πŸ˜‰ you’re like a cat who has more than one life πŸ˜‰ (at least seven) which is good and bad… Good because you can learn from mistakes and try again. Bad because you know that you can try again (which is sometimes less motivating).

  4. yhanoulle says:

    Hi Monica,

    It would at least force the people to take care of quality….
    But I agree, you need more room for failures in a team then in a plane.
    that said, when the pilot makes a mistake, the co-pilot should feel he can tell him. (That was the basis of a large plane crash some years ago)
    And that is sometimes a problem in teams also, people afraid of speaking up…


  5. Monika says:

    Hi Yves,
    question: to encourage people to speak up do you need more room for failures or it’s rather more motivating if you have less? (and you’re under huge pressure – if you don’t speak up the plane will crash)

    I’m thinking about it and frankly speaking don’t know.. both options seems right and wrong…

  6. YvesHanoulle says:

    Hi Monica,

    I don’t understand.

    “more motivating if you have less?”
    less what?
    – less failures
    – less room for failures?
    – less something else?


  7. Monika says:

    less room for failures, like on the plane

  8. YvesHanoulle says:

    ah, that’s the duality: to arrive at higher quality, I think you should have room to experiment and thus have a risk in (smaller) failures.

    In teams you need everyone to care about quality and feel the urge to speak up. I would assume that if you life depend on it, everyone would speak up faster. It turns out that in at least one plane crash that was not enough to have a co-pilot urging a pilot to reconsider his idea’s.

    So you question really is: do we care enough about quality, to risk speaking up even when we could be wrong.
    (long term less failure, but short term maybe more failures (speaking up and making a fool of myself)

  9. Monika says:

    huh… you’re right… duality…
    but, speaking up if something is wrong is also related to team/organization culture… sounds weird but πŸ˜‰