Voting Someone Off the Island on an Agile Team

All teams have their ups and downs, and sometimes it seems as if a team would just be better without a particular person. A recent article from InfoQ discusses this situation in the context of the Survivor TV show, popular in the USA, where contestants repeatedly get the opportunity to “vote someone off the island”.

InfoQ: Voting Someone Off the Island on an Agile Team

While I can see that in some situations the ability of a team to decide together that it’s just not working for some team member is useful and valuable. However, I can’t help worrying that there is a hidden dark-side to this.

As well as making rational consensual decisions, groups also exhibit other, less desirable, characteristics. It’s easy to imagine someone being “voted off” because their ideas challenge the status quo, because they threaten the complacent assumptions of the rest of team, or simply because they are different.

A mob, even a small mob, can be a dangerous thing. “Reality TV” such as the above-mentioned Survivor, Big Brother, The Weakest Link, and many more have shown us this again and again. Do we really want to encourage the mentality of conspiring to “vote off” the most challenging competitors in software development?