Somewhere along the way, the organisation’s goals of better quality, reduced cost and faster time to market were packaged into one phrase - Agile. The tech industry created frameworks and tools to achieve these radical improvements. But are your teams actually better and faster than before? If not, what’s missing?
The root cause analysis will tell us. We expect to find it’s unclear stories, technical debt, long cycle times, poor estimation, practice discipline, lack of automation, lack of technical knowledge - the list goes on. In my experience, organisations focus on tangible things but miss the secret sauce that underpins great Agile...
It’s all about people - capability, collaboration and motivation.
Agile frameworks tell us “what” to do, i.e. what to do in Sprint Planning, but there’s no guidance about “how” to communicate that effectively. And there’s even less guidance about motivating teams or fostering cross-departmental collaboration. Scrum Masters tend to lead teams through meetings and get results, but there’s a bigger picture to work on if you want sustainable, increased velocity. When it comes to velocity the contributing factors we tend to overlook are teams’ capability, collaboration and communication.
Capability. People, not robots, deliver products and services. They are smart with aspirations and ambitions, so help them to grow. Plan that growth as carefully as you would a product feature. It’s just as important. Consciously include soft skills and communication styles in your skills matrix to develop genuinely cross-functional teams. Build their capability, watch them flourish and see their performance improve.
Collaboration. People can achieve amazing things when they get together. The point is that they don’t always get together. Promote the company objectives, get everyone aligned and fired up about the same goals. Don’t just talk about breaking down silos - get on with it. Run cross-departmental objectives, and social events. Make sure your annual Hackathon includes a sales & marketing plan to drive collaboration. Create a cross-departmental focus group to tackle your entry into the new market or beat a competitor. Don’t be afraid to be creative, what motivates people often surprises us.
Motivation. Motivated people find ways to get things done. There are many ways to improve motivation but let’s reflect on how you celebrate success - it's another Agile mantra. Back to point 1, people are not robots, they need recognition in one form or another. It’s hard with remote working. Think about the “personality” of your team and find the right way to celebrate. From a coffee & cake break or a Friday night pizza (arrange home delivery for everyone) it doesn’t break the bank and will mean you all sit and eat together - yes, cameras on - it’s all part of building an effective, driven, remote team.
As experts in team collaboration and communication skills, we help organisations create high-performance teams with the skills to continuously adapt, innovate and thrive in an unpredictable world. With over a decade of experience helping teams across our global client base to work remotely, we’re here to help your organisation thrive in the new normal.
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