Good to great agile teams

Agile_Coach_Human relations

In our rapidly changing world, with no exception of agile teams, that happen to work in versatile and volatile environments, one thing that remains constant is people!

Several researches and blogs have been continuously reminding us, people who work in teams have the ability to make or break the products, particularly agile teams who are focusing on delivering value.
If they are the ones who are producing outstanding products useful to the customers, why are they so difficult and how can we help these people to repetitively perform as a great bunch of individuals?
Well to me, answer lies in basic human relations factors;

  • Communication
  • Motivation
  • Responsibility
  • Empathy

The core of agile team is how they communicate and collaborate while meeting their team commitments. This needs to be bi-directional from teams to the leaders and vice-versa to raise flags and impediments.

Provide autonomy to people. If you think why autonomy is so important?
Well, because its motivating and motivated people build better products. It also enables to make decisions faster.
Please look at Daniel H. Pink‘s video on “The surprising truth about what motivates us

Let people take the ownership of what they do and how they do, trust them and they will deliver being responsible for their creation.

Learn and understand their perspective, No people are bad people (there are exceptions), its the circumstances make them behave in that manner. Learn them and be human.
Empathy is known to increase pro-social (helping) behaviours.

If you add all of the above to your skill-sets and be aware, you can manoeuvre the outcomes and understand why working with teams is a complex phenomenon. This will assist you to help them understand each other and prevail collaboration needed for any team or being cross-functional teams.



Scrum Master a mind-shift not just Certification…


It’s been a while for me being an agile coach. The more I practice, the more I learn everyday on the ties of human behaviour. I have been fascinated with the transformation happening in me, evolving from a Scrum master to becoming an agile coach. Let me put it into context, working with agile/scrum teams is simple but living up to it’s values is complex.

As team produces awesome outcomes for the betterment of their customers experience and creating business value sprint after sprint, they ideally delve into one unit as a team. I see my role as a crucial part to their attainment towards good to great teams, it can make or break things.

So what does it mean and how does it impact you as an individual?

When you become a part of a team equipped with required skill-sets formed to deliver great outcomes, lots of people give up trying to keep the performance a consistent success for a long period of time.

How can you help as a facilitator or coach?

Firstly stay away from;

  • Their team commitments
  • Solving tech problems
  • Providing your solutions
  • Attaching yourself in their successes and failures
  • Not letting the conflicts emerge
  • Not letting them learn by their mistakes

Are you thinking, ‘If a Scrum Master is not helping to do the above, he is probably not doing his job’, isn’t it! Sounds crazy!

Well, Yes it is freaky to disassociate yourself with the team goals.
You have to be their mentor, coach, protector and a good facilitator. Yes, this is definitely leading towards Servant Leadership. Thanks to my mentor Simon Bristow, who introduced me to this concept, I was amazed but had lots of curious questions, and was most certain believing it won’t work in the real world.

When I actually started practicing it, I realized the enormous value it gave to the team on every step and I started believing in it. The Scrum Master as servant leader is a perfect testimony, and it starts with you…hence its just cant be achieved by a certification. Its a mindset, you need to shift your thinking upside down from command-in-control to servant leader and that is why its simple… but hard.

I started with,

‘What can I bring to the team in order to make them succeed..’,

‘How can I help you to achieve your team goals..’

As Mahatma Gandhi says, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world“, it starts with you. At every opportunity, uplift the agile principles within the team, they always come to rescue if something is not working. Keep enhancing their knowledge and understanding of those principles including you as they evolve and learn. Make mistakes tell the team which principle you have disregarded, so that they learn from it. Finally Trust the team to come up with their own solutions.