What is a Team? What makes a Team?

We can explore those questions from different angles, but my simplified definition is: a team is a group of individuals moved by a common goal. Everything is better if, in the meantime we move together towards the goal, we share a positive energy and attitude in between the group.

What defines an Agile Team

An Agile Team is by definition:

  • Cross functional – all team members should be able to replace each other in their main role or tasks.
  • Co-located – sharing the same space. Nowadays, I would say this is not a fundamental condition, due to different reasons: We can be in a multinational company, in a worldwide project, for cost or operational reasons the team can be split in different locations, and that will mean that the team will not be effective.
  • Stable. The team should have the minimal rotation as possible and for that the team motivation and satisfaction is fundamental. This is one of the main requirements for an Agile Leader: be able to serve the team (the servant leader). A team with high rotation is not so productive and efficient, the learning and adaption time will be influencing negatively the deliverable’s quality.
  • 100% dedicated. A team should be focused in a single product. Multitasking is a productivity enemy.
  • Autonomous decisions. A team must have autonomy to decide at least about product strategy, implementation and operational matters. This aspect is intrinsic related with the team self-organization and with the leadership recognition based on individual contribution for the product and for the team performance.
  • Owns Processes and Quality.

Teams are built to deliver working, test products/ services

Once we go into an Agile scaling process, the most part of the people just worry with “how can I form a cross functional team?”. Only after starts concerning about service orientation but one doesn’t live without the other at the same time. Everything and everyone is necessary to deliver a working and tested product.
If a companies doesn’t identify processes, if the teams are created from the bottom of the pyramid, relabeling the old hierarchy template, the creation of products and services will not move further efficiently. Complementary services and applications will not be identified and synergies or optimization are almost impossible.
In traditional models, as bigger is the organization as more layered is the responsibility and less clear is the ownership of the service. In Agile, I have a business process plus a service to encapsulate it and a dedicated Team do deliver it. This is the fundamental principal for a Product based organization.
To go through an Agile Transformation is fundamental to have identified services, micro-services/ components. Sometimes those define the team focus.
Everything and everyone is necessary to deliver a working and tested product. The team is committed to deliver in each release an incremented value product, sometime the end user will notice it explicitly (functional increment) sometimes only perceives some improvement (non-functional increment like quality improvements, coming from a full tested product).

What makes a Team? The Team discipline of Agile Practice

The team discipline for the Agile Practice is fundamental:

  • Discipline and respect for the regular ceremony schedule (e.g. stand up meetings) and regular interactions for planning and requirements quality (e.g. planning, grooming, sprint review, retrospective meetings).
  • Cross Functional Team
  • Collaborative Work-space(s): Sharing backlog, sharing documentation and having permanent transparency about product status and updated customer/ user feedback.
  • Shared goals and independent deliverable;
  • Team liability for loss and damage and team reward and recognition for successful delivery.

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