Scrum, BART and Group Relations

This is a note explaining the connections by and between Scrum, BART and Group Relations. Scrum’s contains clear BART (boundary, authority, role and task) definitions. BART analysis comes from the Group Relations community of practice. Group Relations is concerned with psychology of some depth, at the level of “group”.

I believe if enough agile/Scrum community leaders and members get to know BART, the agile/Scrum work can advance. Specifically the community-level Scrum knowledge level advances as the study of Scrum’s BART properties increases overall insight into Scrum itself.

Original date of note: 10/25/2009 by Dan Mezick


We all know something about Scrum. It’s a framework consisting of 3 roles, 3 ceremonies and 3 artifacts in its canonical form. The full description of canonical Scrum is listed in the reference links below.


BART is short for Boundary, Authority, Role and Task. The full story on this is found via the BART reference link below.

Figure 1. Scrum is related to Group Relations (GR) theory through BART (Boundary, Authority Role and Task) analysis

Scrum is a great study in BART analysis. Upon examination of the roles in Scrum, per the Schwaber Beedle book on canonical Scrum, what is clear is that Scrum has well-defined BART properties. This greatly reduces the waste normally associated with any need to define roles and discover boundaries. The BART properties of Scrum are well documented in the aforementioned book.

Even so, Scrum does have some ambiguity in terms of BART properties. For example, during the Sprint, does the Product Owner stand up? If the PO is a fully committed PO, complete with daily co-location, does that PO recite during the Team’s daily stand-up?

Even with this, as ground rules go, Scrum shines in terms of BART, when compared to typical ways of organizing work, especially software development work, in a typical organization.

Group Relations (GR)

GR is concerned with the emergent behavior of groups, and group-level psychology of some depth. BART comes directly from GR work. GR conferences are concerned with the conscious and unconscious behavior of people who have membership in groups and organizations. Briefly, GR theory says that the unstated primary task of a group is to survive as a group. This under-the-surface task often motivates the group to seek leadership that can help the group with the unstated group-survival task. (see the links below for more info)

This unconscious and irrational leadership-seeking aspect is completely unrelated to the stated task, such as producing “working software”. It is usually in fact at odds with the stated task of the team.

Example: Consider the software project that has no end in sight.

As such, irrational GR effects have the potential to generate tremendous amounts of waste. GR and BART theory says that Scrum has well-formed BART which focuses attention on the stated task, leaving little or no opportunity for irrational team behavior.

Knowledge of GR effects can come in handy when participating in or observing group (team) life. Group Relations conferences are uniquely experiential and the learning can be unusual in form and content. The conferences explore boundary, authority, role and task in groups.


Book: Schwaber and Beedle on (canonical) Scrum

Scrum Guide from Scrum Alliance. Author: Ken Schwaber

The BART System of Organizational and Group Analysis

Group Relations FAQ


About the Author

Dan Mezick: An expert on teams and a trusted adviser to CxO-level executives worldwide, Dan consults on enterprise-wide culture change, implementing Scrum, and the often difficult adoption of authentic Lean principles.

He creates and teaches specific, useful tools and techniques for facilitating successful enterprise-wide adoption of agile and Scrum. Dan’s articles on teams and organizational dynamics appear on,, and Learn more about Dan Mezick’s agile writing here.

He’s the organizer of the Agile Boston user group and a 3-time presenter at Agile2007, 2008 and 2009, an invited speaker to the Scrum Gathering (Orlando) in 2010 and a news reporter for

Reach Dan at:

dan [at] newtechusa [net]

You can learn much more detail about Dan via his Agile Coaching page here.