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What is the difference between a self-managed and a self-organized team?

Self-managed and self-organized are two terms very closely related to the way teams function in agile. At the outset, they may seem like terms that can be used interchangeably, and it has been so by many people working in agile, however, semantically and in practice, they have different meanings. According to the latest update in the Scrum Guide in 2020, "self-managed teams internally decide who does what, when, and how." This primarily means that the Scrum team can choose on their own 'how' they wish to work to accomplish the desired results. It applies to task breakdown, sequencing, distribution, monitoring, and, controlling, and eventually, delivering sprint goals. Thus, self-managed teams have to operate within organizational boundaries and their decisions must respect the organizational environment.

On the contrary, self-organized teams enjoy more autonomy as compared to self-managed teams. For example, self-organized teams enjoy all the privileges of a self-managed team plus the ability to choose who they want to work with or not. More information about these two terms can be found in the book "Leading teams" by Richard Hackman.

What's more important to observe is that the new scrum guide has substituted the term used for the Scrum team from self-organized to self-managed to better reflect the real nature of the scrum team.


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