Agile teams are an important element of project management in software development. Ever wonder how Jazz musicians sometimes become scrum masters?
It’s simple. You can learn to create and manage an agile team from Jazz masters. One can easily draw parallels between managing music bands and agile teams in software development as functionally, both are the same.
You shouldn’t be surprised therefore that in order to explain the tenets of scrum or an agile team, you should go beyond the periphery of software development.
There is no secret recipe to becoming an agile team. In order to become an agile team, you need to understand change and learn how to manage it with the best of your abilities. Remember, you have to manage change within your existing resources.
The agile teams are ever changing teams and they require an entire shift in your attitude and the way you approach things.
It also relates to the way you collaborate and communicate among your peers and team members. Agility is also about how a team as a unit is able to allow switching or extending individual roles and responsibilities to adjust to the project requirement.
To build an ultimate agile team, it needs to have the following characteristics:
1. Team self-organization
You need collaborative members, who are proficient at self organization. In the absence of self organization, your teams may appear chaotic. They are likely to struggle in the first stage of a project i.e. while setting it up. In such a scenario, teams are going to produce poor quality results. So, if it is a music band, the music it produces would be lifeless.
2. A high level of collaboration
Have you ever heard about “quality circles”? In Japan, it is an important element of producing top quality products with a high degree of collaboration among the team members and engineers.
In fact, Japanese evolved this system to create agile teams after Second World War to compete with their rivals in automobile manufacturing in the West. In “quality circles”, every individual is encouraged to offer their contribution to make a wonderful end product, regardless of what their core responsibilities are. If they have an idea to improve the process, they should share it with the team.
3. Development of T-shaped skills
While developing T-shaped skills, team members do not stick to their predefined roles. They develop additional and related skills keeping the end product in mind. They don’t limit their individual contribution as per their existing skills.
Continuous learning is an important part of team self-organization and developing T-shaped skills. It creates a solid framework to collaborate and work with team agreements to produce the best results. For example, in a music band, the musicians should have an understanding of how multiple instruments are played to create the desired effect.
4. Team agreements
In high performance and agile teams, there are unspoken team agreements, which decide who is going to do what. It is part of the trade to produce the best results.
Individual roles and responsibilities take a backseat. A common understanding is achieved to decide who will shoulder additional responsibilities so that things are done professionally and not the way amateurs do it.
5. Continuous improvement
Working with the best framework and understanding of the team agreements are not enough to ensure that your team is working in synergy and in a professional manner.
Making continuous improvement in your skills should be a lifetime habit. Keep on developing additional skills, so that you can achieve mastery in your field.
6. Preference to team success over individual achievements
Sometimes team members spoil the entire project, because they want to outshine individually. They ignore team performance and it creates a mess.
The tendency of team members to highlight themselves should take a backseat and the success of the project should be the top priority.
For perfect rhythm, the sudden pause or a moment of silence is just as important as the music being played. It actually proves how agile is your team and how they can suddenly stop themselves to create wonderful effects.
Take pause, rethink your strategy and step back if something goes wrong. Agile teams do not allow themselves to go in unintended directions. The scrum is all around us and we experience it everywhere in our daily life. The most successful teams are agile teams, not just in software development, but almost every field of life. Every member of your team should be able to think from a different perspective so as to offer their unique contribution to overall achievement.