In a lot of organisations, the team velocity is the only KPI they notice and it is important to understand the influence of team dynamics on the velocity. Looking at the Agile manifesto, there is value some statements, like we value responding to change over following the plan, customer collaboration over contract negotiation and individuals and interactions over processes and tools.
So what is the value of these Values? And why is Agile so popular at the moment.
Well, Agile does a lot of things organisations and customers alike. For example time to market, Self-organised teams and delivering goals on time. To be successful there we have to be aware of the critical success factors for Agile working. Those CSF are customer involvement, collaboration and communication. We need to communicate and the best way to communicate is face-to-face not by email not by messages.
You need to collaborate with the customer and team member’s if you’re not ready to communicate with the customer and other team member’s Agile is not the answer. And last but not least the customer must be truly involved throughout the project (and not only as a trigger point at the start).
In Agile we believe that the best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organising teams.
What is a team? The dictionary definition of a team is:
A group of players forming one side in a competitive game or sport.
“the village cricket team”
In other words, a team is a group of people put together to work on a joint venture/project.
But in Agile we are talking about self-organising teams, which is a different level to what a normal team is. An Agile team works on development effectively together; these are cross-functional teams meaning they can all work on projects with other members of the team not being there.
The only thing that is important in a self-organised team is that they have the authority and flexibility to make a decision within their team on how they do their work. They are organising the work themselves.
With mutual responsibility, they have between the team is commitment.
There is a difference between commencement and involvement.
Teams and especially self-organizing teams become more mature and effective overtime and they go through some developmental stages. So what are the different stages of Agile team and what are the dynamics within in stage? And how do those stages influence the effectiveness and by that the velocity of the team? Also what Strategies can you use to deal with each stage?
During the forming stage, members are usually excited and eager about the work ahead. But at the same time, they feel some anxiety and discontent because they are being forced into a different way of doing things. At this point, some new team members might avoid expressing their views and getting into conflict. During the forming stage, you can expect a lot of questions from the members about group responsibility as well as cooperation with new teammates.
In the second stage of team development, where the project team starts to arrange it’s self and try to gain each other’s trust.
This stage is normally where a lot of conflicts happen due to competition or responsibilities. Feelings shift within the team from the sense excitement to frustration or anger over how other team members are working.
At this point, questions about leadership, rules, responsibilities and reward systems are bound to arise, and they must be answered so your team can move onto the next stage.
Disagreements and personal clashes are now being resolved. People are getting used to working together and have developed trust and respect for each other
The performing stage is the most productive stage of any Agile project team hence the name. The team has now established clear roles; group members are focused on achieving common goals and often reaching a high level of success.
By this time, they are motivated and knowledgeable. Team members are now competent, autonomous and able to handle decisions – making progress without supervision. Dissent can happen and is allowed as long as it is channelled through the means decided in the Storming stage.
Note: changing circumstances may cause the team to revert back to an early stage. For example, adding a new team member or a goal change.
Every project will come to an end. Characterised by an emotional rollercoaster, this ending stage can go two separate ways: with the sense of loss hovering in the air, members can either lose focus and moral or gain the momentum by coping with the task in hand.
So the next time you start a new (agile) project. Be aware of the stages your formed team goes through, and use the best strategy to deal efficiently with what is happening in the team. Within Pink Elephant we are using DISC communications styles to understand the differences of individuals in the team and help them to communicate and deal more efficient and effective with each other.
Taken from Richard de Boer’s webinar on “How Team Dynamics Influence Your Team Velocity” Watch Now
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