The Best Advice for New and Struggling Agile Teams
Let’s say you’re joining a newly formed agile team. Whether as a PM, manager or team member, how can you help your team succeed? The list of good answers is pretty long and varied:
- Make sure roles and responsibilities are clear.
- Get a good agile rhythm going (for instance with iterations, daily stand-ups, reviews, retrospectives).
- Facilitate working agreements.
- Funnel all the work through a single coherent list, such as a backlog with stories.
- Create a build-deploy pipeline.
- Write automated tests for every new piece of code.
- Remove real or perceived barriers to collaboration.
- Ensure that the team has a proper charter.
- Keep the stakeholders happy.
- ...and lots more!
These are big ticket items. Many of them take a while to accomplish and have no obvious endpoint. How do you stay on top of everything?
When I coach managers, leaders and teams, I like to offer a single mantra: Finish Small Valuable Work Together (FSVWT). A team with this focus will naturally address all the above items, and they will quickly become a strong team.
Clearly, this mantra reinforces key agile ideas: finishing, value and collaboration. What I like about it even more is: It suppresses behavioral patterns that hinder agility. One such anti-pattern is overemphasizing standardized (“best practice”) process mechanics. I’ve met many teams that
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