Project Management

What Does it Mean to Be Awesome?

From the Disciplined Agile Blog
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Categories: Principle

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One of the principles of the Disciplined Agile (DA) mindset is to "Be Awesome."  Who doesn’t want to be awesome? Who doesn’t want to be part of an awesome team doing awesome things while working for an awesome organization? We all want these things. Recently, Joshua Kerievsky has popularized the concept that modern agile teams make people awesome, and, of course, it isn’t much of a leap that we want awesome teams and awesome organizations too. Similarly, Mary and Tom Poppendieck observe that sustainable advantage is gained from engaged, thinking people, as does Richard Sheridan in Joy Inc. Helping people to be awesome is important because, as Richard Branson of the Virgin Group says, “Take care of your employees and they’ll take care of your business.” 

There are several things that we, as individuals, can do to be awesome:

  1. Act in such a way that we earn the respect and trust of our colleagues. Be reliable, be honest, be open, be ethical, and treat them with respect.
  2. Willingly collaborate with others. Share information with them when asked, even if it is a work in progress. Offer help when it’s needed and, just as important, reach out for help yourself.
  3. Be an active learner. We should seek to master our craft, always being on the lookout for opportunities to experiment and learn. Go beyond our specialty and learn about the broader software process and business environment. By becoming a T-skilled, “generalizing specialist” we will be able to better appreciate where others are coming from and thereby interact with them more effectively.
  4. Seek to never let the team down. Yes, it will happen sometimes, and good teams understand and forgive that.
  5. Be willing to improve and manage our emotional responses to difficult situations. Innovation requires diversity, and by their very nature diverse opinions may cause emotional reactions. We must all work on making our workplace psychologically safe. 

Awesome teams also choose to build quality in from the very beginning. Lean tells us to fix any quality issues and the way we worked that caused them. Instead of debating which bugs we can skip over for later, we want to learn how to avoid them completely. As we’re working toward this, we work in such a way that we do a bit of work, validate it, fix any issues that we find, and then iterate. The Agile Manifesto is clear that continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility.

Senior leadership within our organization can enable staff to be awesome individuals working on awesome teams by providing them with the authority and resources required for them to do their jobs, by building a safe culture and environment, and by motivating them to excel. People are motivated by being provided with the autonomy to do their work, having opportunities to master their craft, and to do something that has purpose. What would you rather have, staff who are motivated or demotivated?

Posted by Scott Ambler on: May 28, 2020 06:03 AM | Permalink

Comments (9)

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Thanks for highlighting this principle, Scott. I'm always glad to see DA learners who will prioritize it above all the others when doing the principle prioritizing exercise!

Thank you for sharing, Scott. Really good principles to build an awesome team!

Very interesting and informative. I am motivated to be awesome. Thanks for sharing!

The awesome team concept resembles a rebranding of the Dream Team concept, the American national basketball team that played in Barcelona Olympic games. They checked off all five boxes mentioned in the blog.

@Eduard, I'm not sure they executed well on #2 or #4. A recognized problem with that team was that they didn't take the necessary time to gell as a team. They put together a bunch of stars who didn't know how to work together well with each other.

You are correct @Scott. It seemed that there were some tensions, specially when selecting the players. Too many cooks can mess up the broth! Un this case their tremendous quality overcame all tensions and issues that could exist in the team.

Thanks for sharing

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