Agile Illustrated – Sample #3
December 09, 2019
This is the third sample from my new Kindle book “Agile Illustrated: A Visual Learner’s Guide to Agility”. The book is a graphical introduction to the agile mindset and servant leadership behaviors for working with agile teams. If you missed the first two samples you can find them here and here.
Also, just in time for Christmas, Agile Illustrated is now available as a physical paperback book. So if you prefer to hold a physical book rather than read a Kindle book you can now get your hands on a copy. Or, if you would like to give a copy to a manager or executive who is unlikely to read a normal length book on the agile mindset and how to support agile teams then buy them a copy as a gift.
At just 88 pages and mainly pictures it is a quick read that explains the agile values, principles and servant leadership behaviors needed to support agile teams. Available from your local Amazon online store, the US link is here.
Today we will review Team Performance. The Team Performance domain includes Team Formation, Team Empowerment, and Team Collaboration activities. (Anyone taking the PMI-ACP exam should expect to see 18-20 questions on this topic.)
Here is a mindmap showing all the tasks, we will then review them one at a time.
Task 1 – Jointly create team norms
Learn how people want to work and agree on how things should be done and how issues should be handled.
As a group, develop the group rules that will be followed. By being involved in the creation of the team norms, people are much more likely to feel ownership and commitments towards them. Telling people how we should work is much less empowering than engaging those people in jointly developing their own framework.
Task 2 – Help develop technical and interpersonal skills
Encourage the development of technical and people skills so everyone is equipped to work effectively.
Knowledge work requires two sets of skills. The first is to do the technical work as a subject matter expert (SME), the second is to work productively with other SMEs and stakeholders, including the business and customer. The job of learning and honing these skills is never done, and we should always be improving our technical and collaboration skills.
Task 3 – Encourage generalizing specialists
Encourage people to have a broad range of skills, not only deep, narrow ones, so that as workload varies people can help other team members out.
The concept of “T” shaped people rather than “I” shaped people captures the idea of having skills in surrounding fields of work, in addition to a specialization. To maximize the value delivered we want global rather than local optimization. This means focusing on overall throughput of value over people-utilization efficiencies. T-shaped people are valuable for optimizing value since they allow us to share work to reduce bottlenecks.
Encourage people to step up for new roles. Allow them to make their own decisions. Put them in charge of many elements of their job.
We want people to take ownership of their work and start to make their own improvements. So encourage people to look for opportunities for improvements and take initiative to make them happen. These are forms of emergent and shared leadership. Subject matter experts know their domains best, so empower them to manage complexity and create solutions to the problems they face.
Task 5 – Proactively manage morale
Learn what motivates people and provide that motivation in their workplace.
Frequently observe and ask team members about what motivates them individually and as part of a team. Also, learn what demotivates or upsets them. Then try to find ways to improve the work environment to foster happiness, productivity, and satisfaction.
Team Collaboration and Commitment
Task 6 – Encourage ongoing communications
Encourage dialog and technology that helps share information.
Usually, the best way to help communications is to physically co-locate with the people you need to communicate with. Nothing beats seeing them and talking with them. It allows for the richest exchange of information accompanied by body language and emotion.
When colocation is not possible, provide the best tools you can to keep people in communication. Monitor communications and look for ways to reduce miscommunication or address missing communication. This helps reduce costly and wasteful rework caused by miscommunication.
Task 7 – Protect team from distractions
Shield the team from interruptions.
Distractions and low-priority interruptions can come from many sources. They might be requests from superfluous sources or demands for low-priority admin work. Even quick interruptions cause task-switching and interrupting flow.
Special-ops and Skunkworks teams have been effective and highly productive in part because they were separated and shielded from interruptions.
Task 8 – (Re)communicate the vision to align the goal
Show the end goal and how people’s contributions help get us there.
People should understand how their work contributes to the end goal. So we need to align the team goals with the product or project goal and show the connections and steps along the way to our final destination.
Task 9 – Measure performance to help forecasting
Encourage people to measure and share their performance so we can get better at forecasting at a high level.
In order to improve our ability to forecast, we need to track how things actually turned out. If we keep making estimates without checking actual performance, we will keep making the same estimation errors. Tracking velocity and work delivered helps create a more accurate view of the team’s true capacity for future work.
I hope you enjoyed these samples from my most recent book. It was a fun project for me and my wish is that people find it an easy introduction to agile values.