Agile Is a Thought Process, Not a Work Process
Increase productivity of your team within the agile framework. How agile is helping us to build a high-performance team? What are the principles we can use to build my team?
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What makes a High-Performance team different from others? Is there any framework or way to build a high-performance team? We all know agile as a framework. Does it help us to build the High-Performance Team? If you and your team follow the agile framework, can just following agile make your teams a high-performance team? In my experience with agile, I have seen teams follow agile by the book, and they do not want to deviate from what they read in the book. Sometimes in teams, it is merely an agile process just for its sake or pushed top to bottom. For me, Agile is a philosophy that enables teams/individuals to be better. You can reap the benefits of agile if you follow it unrestrainedly. We must show agility in our thought process rather than in the work process. Now the question is, if agile is a philosophy to follow, then how does it help us? Do we see agile in real life from which we can learn?
Let us answer these questions with a relatable example of a weight loss journey and co-relate that to your agile team. I chose this as an example to answer questions because I believe you will relate to this example even though you have or are not going through this journey.
For me, the agile technique is very straightforward. I acronym it as GAP-CPR (Goal and Plan – Check, Prove and Retrospect). CPR is also known as Cardiopulmonary resuscitation. It is a technique used to save lives in case of emergency when the heartbeat stops. The goal of CPR is to save lives, and We also need to look at agile in the same way, a technique to achieve our goal. Though it will not save lives, it will give you a sense of achieving your goal.
Define Goals for Your Team
The first question for whatever we do in our work or personal life is what we want to achieve? We need to have a clear goal in our minds/papers; what do we want to attain? E.g., I want to reduce 15 KG in the next three months, and now all my plans will evolve and revolve around this goal. If you have decided to lose weight, your final goal is weight loss, which you can compare as a new product or feature in the software, so we need to define clear goals for the team!
Define Ownership in Team
Once you decide the goal, you go into the planning/designing phase. To reduce weight, you know that you need to have a balanced and controlled diet and exercise. You will find apps/tools/trainers to track your calories to schedule your diet and exercise. You will also weigh your food intake to be vigilant on your calories input. In contrast, in software, you will find third-party products, design your schema, etc., to go further into implementation.
Just planning is not good enough; you must own your weight loss goal. You will have the schedule for exercise, Food Intake, etc. Make sure you define clear ownership within your team! Sometimes we see that even though the goal is clear, we cannot achieve that, and the reason for that is missing a Sense of Ownership.
Pulse Check Against a Goal
Here, you will define routine check-ups for you. Keep Checking the pulse of your goal! If you went through a weight loss journey, I bet you check for weight at least once a day and maybe for some of you, even multiple times on the same day – in agile; you need to do the same. A timely progress check will keep you on your toes. In our example, you will track it on apps you decide, or if you are an old school guy, then your notebook.
What if there is no change in weight? Does it mean you are not progressing? You will see no changes in the weight loss journey for the first couple of days, but eventually, you will start seeing a difference as you go forward. All your new hires fit this category as new bees; they are vulnerable, and progress might be slower for them, but eventually, they will pick up. In case they don’t, then something you missed. It might happen when onboarding did not go well. It is your responsibility to fill this gap as soon as possible before the attitude of “This is how it is here” comes into existence. With ownership comes responsibility, and this is where the owner will be able to make the right calls to make progress.
This is the stage to see if you are moving forward with your goal and its achieved percentage? You will showcase that work. In our example, you are going to showcase it to yourself. Based on the progress, you can also find out if you will achieve the goal you had set for yourself.
We sit and discuss how to improve? Human tendency is to find issues as this is the most straightforward task. I will emphasize more the positives that are working for you to achieve the goal. We should never forget to continue playing on our strengths and continue using that. We need to focus on what is helping us to move forward towards our goal!
If you are not losing weight as per the defined timeline, it is time to adjust the plan and identify the gaps. It would help if you found the right reasons to decide on adjustments or changes. Possible options your plan is not working - did not follow the diet plan or missing instructor for right exercises, or did not follow the schedule due to lack of willpower. Now consider if this all problems you have in your execution; what will happen?
Will power of the team is weak, and now whatever you do, you will not achieve the best results!
If your team needs more guidance from a third party, you are missing skill sets in your team that you should fill as soon as possible!
To be a High-Performance Team in agile, you need to follow these principles very thoroughly, like how you are doing it for your health journey, or else there will be loose ends. It is ok to tweak it with what is working for you, but it is not a work process but rather a thought process. If you follow the framework, you will see results provided you also work on improvement plans for you and your team to identify and fill the gaps. I hope this article helped you with a first step to build a High-Performance Team where they are self-motivated to finish the goal with a sense of ownership.
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