9 Questions Wildly Successful Teams Answer Every Day

How do we increase our capability to become wildly successful? As a classically trained musician, turned technology executive, turned performance improvement innovator, I’ve come see companies as orchestras and engineering as music. The near-perfect alignment between music and engineering enables strategies for achieving mastery in music to translate to other disciplines as well. Teams that need to improve their capabilities – and become wildly successful – have a powerful roadmap at their disposal in the questions answered every day by great musicians. “9 Questions Wildly Successful Teams Answer Every Day” shows the way.

 
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Outline/structure of the Session

How do we increase our capability to become wildly successful? As a classically trained musician, turned technology executive, turned performance improvement innovator, I’ve come see companies as orchestras and engineering as music. The near-perfect alignment between music and engineering enables strategies for achieving mastery in music to translate to other disciplines as well. Teams that need to improve their capabilities – and become wildly successful – have a powerful roadmap at their disposal in the questions answered every day by great musicians. “9 Questions Wildly Successful Teams Answer Every Day” shows the way.

Question(s) #1: Who am I? What do I want to be? What do I value? What is expected? How will I behave?

Work with your management team to establish a clear set of common values that include: transparency, collaboration, failing–fast, iterative and incremental, and a strong bias towards spending more effort writing software than writing documentation. Take-away: a worksheet for determining your organizations powerful mission statement.

Question #2: What will I need?

Procure all of the resources to support the items identified in Idea #2. These might include: co-located workspace, planning poker decks, pair programming desks, software tools such as Sharepoint, Jira or Team Foundation Server, and the funding for the various tools, resources, facilities and other components required to execute the ceremonies and events. Take-away: a worksheet for identifying resources needed.

Question #3: What part do I play?

Some are under the impression that because Agile teams are “self organizing,” that means that it is less disciplined, but nothing could be further from the truth. A crisp understanding of each person’s role, responsibility, and authority is essential to any successful Agile team, even more than in a traditional software development environment. Product Owners must be free to make product decisions, Scrum Masters need to be able to freely coach teams during each ceremony, and team members need to step-up as they self-subscribe to each story or task. Personal responsibility is everything for an Agile team, and without a clear definition of roles teams cannot be successful. Take-away: a worksheet for clearly defining roles and responsibilities.

Question #4: How will I learn? How do I manage information?

Suck it up and train people. Train them to be Product Owners and Scrum Masters. Most importantly, train teams to be self-disciplined, empowered Agile citizens that trust the process and live the Agile values from Idea #1 every day.

Agile teams like to use “information radiators.” No problem! If you make a decision to use sticky notes and a scrum board, use a camera to capture that information and store it in a repository so that other parts of your organization can benefit from that information. If not, use a tool like Jira or TFS to record information while you create (and share) burn-down and burn-up charts, epics, stories, and tasks. The same goes for the information that is generated from Question #2. Record your process definitions in a common repository so that you, and other teams, can benefit from the assets you’ve developed.

Question #5: How will I collaborate?

Most of what’s been written about Agile teams focuses on the “nuclear” scrum team, but every project has external stakeholders who need to have input and participation with the project. For instance, you might have a group of people who focus on continuous build/continuous integration, or attendees at a Sprint demo that need to be in attendance to provide useful and meaningful input.

Question #6: So what – who cares?

How is your Agile team performing? Are they meeting Sprint commitments? Are customers satisfied with the prioritization of user stories? Are they inserting stories mid-sprint? Do the user stories meet the definition of done? Without this, how do we even know that we’re doing the right things?

Question #7: Where do I get feedback?

Since Agile requires personal discipline it makes sense to me that we occasionally evaluate the behaviors of Agile teams to ensure that healthy self-discipline exists. Given the value that Agile teams place on a “high-trust” environment, they are usually loath to accept the idea of project audits, but there are many ways to objectively evaluate team performance. With a focus on mentoring, coaching, and improving the discipline of Agile teams, look to the values from Idea #1 to ensure you are getting at what’s important.

Question #8: Who do I share information with?

While Agile has grown exponentially across project teams, it hasn’t been quite as successful at persuading management to join revolution. Sharing successes (and failures) of Agile teams more proactively with upper management will bring more agility to the entire organization. The key to Agile success is the implementation of the Agile values described in Idea #1 throughout the company – and if management isn’t involved it isn’t going to happen. Ever.

Question #9: How do I adapt? How will I improve?

Once size never fits all, and this goes for Agile teams as well. BE AGILE and do what’s right for your project! Create guidelines that will allow Agile teams to deviate, when it makes sense. Creating those guidelines is tough so look to Organizational Process Definition for guidance. It’s well worth the effort.

Agile teams are well versed in the use of the Retrospective, but since Agile ceremonies focus primarily on the nuclear team those lessons don’t usually get shared with the larger population. The organization that can expand the concept of Retrospectives beyond the Agile team, so that lessons can be systemically collected, indexed, and used by all, is the organization that wins!

So there you have it. 9 questions that can improve an organization’s ability to perform right away. The rest is up to you!

Learning Outcome

Participants will take away tips for improving performance, predictability, collaboration and quality with agile values, methods and techniques, including how to:

  • Bring greater clarity and strength to Scrum ceremonies
  • Drive quality andperformance improvement across the board
  • Strengthen the understanding, adoption, and continuous improvement of the agile values and behaviors in your organization
  • Reassure clients that you have a plan for scaling agile in a way that can help them get improved results
  • Get more out of your investment in agile and performance improvement frameworks like CMMI and ISO.

Target Audience

Business leaders, software and engineering executives, managers and professionals

schedule Submitted 1 year ago

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