Team Trials

Len Lagestee

Len Lagestee is an agile coach and consultant based in Chicago. He runs

When you’re asked to take control of a project mid-flight with heavy turbulence, it might be tempting to start “fixing” the team. Instead, take some time to identify the underlying roots of the problem. Here is a five-point assessment that targets potential gaps on a struggling team, from vision to competency.

It will happen to most of us eventually. We are asked (told) to join a team having difficulties and turn things around. The team may be challenged with missed deadlines, dysfunctional relationships and low morale … being over budget or behind schedule … or a lack of discipline and organization — and you are going to be the one to help pull the project out of despair and back into happiness.

When we are placed in these situations our natural tendency is to jump in and get busy “fixing” things. When we do this we also have the temptation to miss the real reason the team may be struggling, or begin to formulate theories based on perceptions and superficial data.

To avoid this, take a little time to assess the current situation of the team. In this order, does the team have:

1. A vision gap. Does the team know where they are headed? Take a look at the product vision and roadmap. If it does not exist, is not well articulated or has not been shared with the team, work with the product owner to put this in place.

2. An energy …

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