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. Now, let’s first understand what is an agile team?
An agile team is one-extensive team that can take up any job role, task or deadline and accomplish the impossible through systematic planning, approach and strategies. An agile team understands the project completely, breaks it down into fragments or modules, works on them individually or cross-functionally, tests, deploys and completes the project well before a scheduled deadline.
Almost everyone in an agile team has a uniform understanding of a project and its requirements. This allows the team members to back each other up under various circumstances.
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. Now, let’s understand how do we start an agile team?
Agile is more about keeping a team together by bringing in policies and principles than assembling the right team. Some factors to look for when starting an agile team include –
The agile teams are ever changing teams and they require an entire shift in your attitude and the way you approach things. That’s why we discuss how does an agile team work?
Since agile is a systematic and planned process, it generally involves the following workflow.
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.
Agile is a universal concept that is tweaked according to project or organizational requirements. The four prominent roles in an agile team include the following –
1. Scrum Master – otherwise called a team lead or team coach. They are responsible for owning a project, guiding their team members, planning, resource management and more.
2. Team Member – responsible for the development and delivery of a project.
3. Product Owner – the client-facing representative, who is responsible for RoIs, backlog completions, product demos and more.
4. Stakeholders – involves a spectrum of people such as users, investors, managers, support, executive teams and more.
Before understating characteristics of a high performing agile team, first we learn:
Agile is a contemporary concept in the software development cycle that allows teams to develop an airtight product with fewer iterations in a lesser time. Instead of a monolithic development strategy, agile involves working on fragments of projects at the same time, making modifications and changes easy and manageable.
Now, we discuss following characteristics to build an ultimate agile team:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 software development team should be able to think from a different perspective so as to offer their unique contribution to overall achievement.
Abhishek, Heading design department is one of the most innovative UI/UX experts for web with over 9 years of experience. He remains updated with the changing web trends and share his knowledge for performance improvements.
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