Powerful Ways to Build an Agile Team

Powerful Ways to Build an Agile Team

Agile Manifesto states that the best designs, architecture, and requirements emerge from the self-organizing teams. Agile teams are the most important part of the Agile framework as they have to operate on the Agile values and principles. One of the major requirements of the Agile team is to stick to the Agile concepts and successfully apply the tools and techniques in Agile. Self-organizing teams can create and execute a strategy and can adjust the efforts according to the circumstances. As many organizations have started implementing Agile Methodology, there is much surge in the demand for Agile professionals. When you get hired in a top Agile company, you have to learn to collaborate with other members of your team. Also, if you are a Scrum Master or Project head, the company will expect results from you on behalf of your team. Either way, you have to learn how Agile teams can be productive and efficient such that the resources of the company are used maximally producing the best results.

What is an Agile team?

An Agile team is the main group of people in the Agile organization who are responsible for developing a product. An Agile team consists of specified individuals who are cross-functional experts as they support each other while product development. When an organization gets a bigger project, they are quickly broken down and completed in a lesser time by distributing the team according to the experts in the Agile team. An Agile team is mostly self-organized where the distribution and management of the tasks are collectively done by the different team members. This helps to avoid the hierarchy issues in the team and also the bottlenecks between the leadership chains are not faced. The main roles in the Agile team include:

  • The Product Owner is the representative of the stakeholders who explains the product from the perspective of the customer. The concerns of the end-users are reflected by the Product Owner which helps the team to build the product features in an iteration. The important responsibilities of a Product Owner are:
    1. Prioritizes and manages the Product Owner are being met and executed on the scheduled time. The main role of the team lead includes:
      1. Identifying impediments and obstacles during the process and removing them beforehand. 
      2. Breaking down the targets into tasks that are easier to perform. 
      3. Distributing work to team members and tracking their progress
      4. Looking for ways to improve the project delivery process 
  • Team Members are the backbone of the Agile team as they directly oversee the product development process. They have to develop the product and execute it at the scheduled time. They have to carry out all the goals that have been created by the team lead and the Product Owner. The tasks of the team members include:
    1. Identifying obstacles so that the team lead can address it
    2. Working together in a team
    3. Providing feedback on the project delivery process
    4. Developing the product in an iterative manner
  • The Stakeholders are direct or indirect users who give feedback on how the product has to be developed. They give an idea about how the product should look like, hence, the entire team will work together to satisfy the needs of the stakeholders who will use the product. Project stakeholders could also be professionals who are directly associated with the project development process. 

How to Build an Agile Team?

Now that you have understood what consists of an Agile team, let us know what are the tips we have to follow to build a powerful Agile team that is effective, efficient, and productive. Here are few points to remember to build a productive and healthy Agile team.

  • Make Communication Clear and Transparent

When a company has adopted Agile, there would be chaos and confusion in the initial stages of functioning. Progress could not be seen overnight as it requires significant daily work, culture shift, and staff reorganization. As the employees adjust to their new environment, there may be a gap in communication and misunderstanding between the team members. At this stage, the type of leadership is important as the team leader has to explain the reason and goals of the organization and help the team members align with the company’s vision. The company has to set up a clear communication process where the staff can clear their queries about certain processes and give their input through surveys and Q&As. This helps the management to communicate with the employees and helps to promote an open dialogue between both of them. With proper communication, common goals can be identified which will result in new efficiencies and better creativity across the organization. 

  • Normalizing Failure

When you look at the idea of self-organization where multiple experts come together and work on a single product without having a main team lead, you may believe it would lead to total anarchy. However, Agile teams are process-oriented teams where every member has a purpose and something to bring to the table. Often when a new process is started or new projects are taken, people do not take risks and have no opportunities to learn from the risks. In old processes, failure may be viewed as something which is intrinsically bad and should be avoided. However, in Agile teams, failures should be normalized as one learns much more from failures. While obviously, the process has to be successful for the company to gain profit, but in a fast-paced and flexible Agile environment, failures are inevitable and hence should be accepted as a part of the process. Failures could be normalized by acknowledging members of a team who take a risk during the development process while conducting staff meetings. You could also have monthly awards for people who have taken higher risks and have learned more than other members of the staff. The awarded members can share their experiences with everyone on the team and also encourage them to take risks during their process. When people start looking at risks as a learning opportunity, they will start normalizing failures and their negative impact will be significantly reduced. 

  • Balance the team adequately

When you have the right people in place in your team, you can adapt and collaborate efficiently. There are many “people problems” that take place while forming an Agile team. When you have a professional who has a visionary mindset, they would only give ideas for the product but do not experiment with different features. Also, technical professionals such as engineers may find it hard to adapt to the flexible nature of Agile. All these problems decrease the efficiency of the team and pose a threat to the failure of Agile Methodology. When you form your Agile team, make sure you understand everyone’s personalities and working style so that you can allow the work easily without having any conflict. Identify every person’s strengths and weaknesses so that a balanced team could be created that would achieve the project goal and objectives. 

  • Use the Sought Feedback

No matter how good your process is going and how fast you can develop a product feature, it is always great to seek out feedback to ensure that you are developing the correct product. When you gather a large number of feedbacks you can analyze the areas that may be going wrong and correct them before it is harder to change. Agile teams often have various methods and systems to take the software out to the customers so that they can collect feedback in the early stage and incorporate it into the product. Also, the feedback includes the opinions and internal feedback given by the team members and the members of the organization. Remain completely honest with any blunders that you see in the product features so that the team members can continuously learn and improve continuously. Retrospectives are a great way to reflect the mistakes taken in the previous iterations such that the same mistake may not repeat in the future. 

  • Build the team based on Trust

Without trust, any team cannot be efficient or productive as trust is required to truly function as a team. When you do the things that you have promised, and hold up ends, it becomes easier for the team members to complete their work on time. As long as you can trust the other person with a job, you cannot perform well as there would be some discomfort working with particular employees. You have to begin trusting people that they can complete their work as promised. Also, you have to complete your work without any follow-up such that the other person trusts you completely and does not have to follow up on you unnecessarily. 

  • Respond to changes

As an Agile team, you should always be ready to face changes in the team as you cannot expect the process to stay the same from the beginning. An Agile team always faces changes and a key ability of the Agile team is to respond to changes rather than staying committed to previous plans. To become the best Agile team, the team members have to constantly reevaluate the priorities and keep shifting their resources accordingly. The team should always accept changes whether it is by the client or by any circumstances, they always have to be flexible to be successful. 

  • Focus on the results

Agile teams should not obsess over which kind of process or procedure is used to produce a specific result. Their concentration should be entirely on the results or the product feature that is being developed. This way the team members do not have to stick to a particular pattern of work during the product building. As they are more focused on the product, they can choose any process of their choice to achieve the result. This makes the developer feel that they are empowered to make their own decision, develop creative solutions, and solve problems using their skills and expertise. 

  • Concentrate on the entire team than individuals

When you focus on individuals tasks and if they are completing or not, the entire Agile project may not be successful. The keyword here is Agile “team” where the entire team is responsible for a project working or not working. In traditional teams, every individual used to get works assigned which on completion would be the success of the project. However, in Agile, successful projects are only created by self-organizing teams where everyone is accountable for the completion of the product. Hence, everyone is appreciated for the project work and not only for their contribution. 

Conclusion

Agile teams are self-organizing teams that contain a panel of experts who work across various functionalities. The Agile team consists of developers, product owners, and a team lead who manage the product development. Building a powerful Agile team takes much effort and hard work from the management and the employees’ side. When you have open communication with the team members about any changes or improvements, you get an idea of making stronger connections among people. Other points such as focusing on the results, concentrating on the entire team, and fostering a growth mindset and an Agile environment are also great ways of building a powerful Agile team.