The secret sauce of a team (Inner team factors)

In Agile, Coaching teams from forming to performing, Forming Agile Teams, Inspiring, Retrospectives, Trust by chuzzeteLeave a Comment

A couple of weeks ago, I facilitated a sprint retrospective with a mature Agile Scrum team, composed by three experienced developers and a its Product Owner. Like we used to doing at the end of every single two week sprint, we met for an hour or more to inspect the sprint and adapt in consequence.

But what got my attention was their attitude and how elevated, relaxing and fun our conversation was.

I used what’s been suggested in the article “Tips4Leaders: 3 things to consider when facilitating”, about Active listening through curiosity and here is what we got as outcome by the end of the

magic-sauce (One's team journey)

This team magic sauce to reach their current state

Extremely surprised about their attitude, calmness and how happy they were to be sitting there together reflecting upon how we’ve got there and the conclusions in regards with those key elements that allowed us reach the team’s maturity level, I’ve got inspired to share my interpretation of the meeting outcome, reflected in the picture below.

For explanation purposes, I’ve divided the outcome of our reflections in two areas:

  1. The Inner team factor to reach greatness
  2. The Outer team factors to reach greatness

First, let’s talk about the Inner team factors to reach greatness in an agile team: 

Shared purpose

  • Have a shared, visible and touchable Product Vision: Experienced Product Owners know the value of creating, sharing and keeping a Product Vision shared and owned by the development team. It motivates and invites the team to think about different ways to build something that doesn’t exist, which in my personal experience seems to be fuel for software developers.
  • System Thinking all the way: Have a good understanding of how the whole system works and its composition, has allowed this team to overcome some challenges related to deliver work in an iterative fashion.
  • Deliver results at a constant pace: Delivering results by the end of every single iteration, has gained the team the required confidence to trust their instincts and continue on trying things out. It has also made stakeholders believe that self-organization pays off

Shared ownership 

  • Get needs and problems to be solved instead of constrained solutions: Getting well formulated needs and problems to be solved, has offered the team the opportunity to be creative and propose innovative solutions adapted to which brings more value to the customer know.
  • Shared vocabulary (business and development): Being able to use a common vocabulary (shared development process, shared business and system terms) has helped the team to communicate ideas effectively, minimizing redundancy, time wasting and ambiguity.
  • Know how the systems works: The more the teams knows how the system works, the better it could communicates what is possible and what’s not. That’s the type of ownership that allows companies, to make informed decisions based on well known products.

Shared responsibility & visibility

  • In us we “Trust”: We Trust the team, the system and the people that we work with to get things done. When that’s not the case, we make it visible using the mechanisms available in the agile development process (In this case, the sprint reviews are used for it)
  • What and how things are done: We master our development process in a way that ensure to make clear: what needs to be done, by when and under which conditions. We master the how to and we take responsibility for the outcome, even when circumstances are against us.

Iterative approach 

  • MVP approach: We create hypothesis first based on mesurable results, we build a prototype, we test it out and then we take time to learn from it. All our decisions are based on this approach in order to reduce risks and increase our success rate.
  • We norm what we do: We have rules to develop our products that we continuously adapt, in order to keep  us learning and adapting about what makes more sense.

This what we have noticed work for us inside the team but what about you? What is your team’s secret sauce to reach greatness?

In the next article I’ll sharing our reflections about “The Outer team factors to reach greatness” so stay tuned.


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