A good agile team should exhibit the following qualities
Originating as an approach for software development, agile methodologies have quickly spread to encompass most business industries. The reason for this is due to its effectiveness, with agile favoring incremental goals and small teams to enable constant self-evaluation and improvement.
A strong agile team will not be defined by traditional roles and responsibilities. The agile approach looks holistically at the contributions of each member and the final results. Each team will be unique and will require managerial trust as it finds the working methods that best suit them.
A good team should consist of diverse players, each with their own tasks including testing, analysis, and implementation. Through direct and open communication they will quickly adapt in real-time and learn to cycle through different workflow phases.
In this blog post, we will look closely at the markers that make the most successful agile teams, as well as important considerations when building ventures. Lastly, we discuss the role of product manager when leading agile teams.
An agile team will deliver a company working results that have a direct impact on customers. An agile team creates more than just technical components. They are responsible for completing the product’s end-to-end functionality. An agile team must support the development, testing, and integration of a product while processing feedback and considering the product from various vantage points. Team members must be united in their mission and have a thorough understanding of their unique role.
Additionally, a broad range of qualities determines the team’s overall effectiveness. A team should understand the tenants of agile development, have trust in each other, show a willingness to reflect and adjust their approach, and be built from a wide variety of backgrounds. They should also thoroughly understand the context in which they are working and be encouraged to work efficiently without pressure to rush.
A successful team understands agile principles and values and knows how to apply them to problem-solving. Asking that everyone read through the Agile Manifesto provides a common understanding of key priorities and ensures smoother adoption of agile methodologies like Scrum or Kanban. People well versed in an agile approach will be familiar with the qualities needed in a successful team and thus better equipped to identify shortcomings and make adjustments.
In recent years there has been discussions on the effectiveness of teaching agile methodologies in business schools. The entrepreneurial spirit at many start-ups has led larger corporations to take note—learning by example on how to implement lean, agile approaches.
Encouraging the development of personal connections within an agile team is important, enabling trust and a solid rapport among team members. Personal connections improve communication and self-organization while minimizing missed expectations and confusion. Strong team members are open-minded and understand the individual skill sets that the other team members bring. They will participate in building team morale and avoid an individualistic working approach. Building trust is a stepping stone to building a long-term collaborative mindset. A team that has mastered this will be able to transfer their skills when building lasting relationships with customers and clients.
An important case study by O'Dwyer, Conboy, Lang found that agile practices were one of the best ways to improve trust among teams, noting more generally that higher trust equated to better working conditions and improved results.
Knowing what solution will best satisfy the challenge requires constant testing, retrospection, and adjustment—skills requiring a great deal of flexibility, creativity, and quick thinking. When gathering feedback, a well-adjusted team will learn in real-time how to continuously adapt through open communication, building a catalog of techniques and methodologies that will lend itself to the creation of the perfect product.
A successful Agile team can effectively and continuously integrate feedback into their workflow.
When building an agile team, do not underestimate the importance of diversity. Countless studies have concluded that diversity is a strong metric for improving performance. A successful team should include a variety of perspectives and skill-sets tailored to the projects and challenges assigned to them. Diversity of race, gender, and cultural background provides a multiplicity of viewpoints and approaches. Depending on the project, developers should be joined by engineers, user experience designers, and creatives to create as multidisciplinary a team as possible.
A well-functioning and collaborative team will deliver high-value results as soon as possible. Placing too much emphasis on speed can have a detrimental effect on an agile team's ability to develop their working methods. A team will learn and adopt qualities over time to yield faster development speeds. The speed with which they work is not an inherent quality in and of itself, but rather, a learned and changing process. For an agile team to work efficiently, they need to be guided by management to understand their focus and to remove any uncertainty when engaging with a project.
It is important that team members understand when and how to redistribute workloads in order to work more efficiently. The Institute for Corporate Productivity found that teams which could effectively rotate demands were three times more likely to be found at high performing organizations.
Be it the context of a project or the overall development style of the company, an agile team needs to be aware of the context in which they are working. A clear outline of the expectations and frameworks will allow the team to more quickly develop an approach that fits the circumstances. While Agile techniques are intended to address a wide variety of situations, they must be contoured by managerial direction to be most useful.
For many, the reality has set in that the future of the office includes at least some form of remote working. Companies should rest assured that it is possible to incorporate Agile methodologies within a hybrid or remote work context. Given the limited physical interaction of online work, both the management and team will need to take steps to ensure that the best qualities of an Agile team remain achievable.
The unique challenges that arise from online team building:
Previously, we examined the characteristics that create good product management. Implementing an effective product management style provides the foundation for developing the most successful agile teams.
In general, good product management will generate innovative ideas that improve all aspects of the business. It should also guide and direct the business’ vision and message, making sure it is well internalized both inside and outside the organization.
The product management should guide teams on the context, goals, and frameworks that will help them most quickly develop their approach.
An agile approach helps companies streamline efficiency while honing in on their values and customer expectations. It is here where start-ups have greatly benefited, in part due to their small size, in quickly adapting these tools to achieve growth.
The reality is that any business stands to gain by adopting an agile approach and implementing smaller focused teams. Large businesses must rethink and calibrate to an entrepreneurial mindset if they want their business and product strategy to stay relevant.
Having strong agile teams form the structure of your business will help to put you on this track.