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How to build a successful Agile Team2

The vital but most overlooked ingredient that contributes to making or breaking an Agile team is people. It is not enough for the team to be cross-functional, co-located, and have their time dedicated to the project. It is also not enough to identify team members by looking at their functional knowledge, technical skills, or specializations. These aspects are key but less important than the attitude, motivation, and potential to come together to form a really great team.

Overall, you want a group of people who are happy to collaborate and want the team to succeed. What every team member of a great Agile team needs is the ability to put team goals above personal goals. So, here are some key steps you need to consider when building a successful agile team.

Gather the right mix of people

The single most important factor in building a great agile team is to gather the right people. Shoving a random selection of “resources” together is almost certain to fail. Personally, I’d rather have a new graduate engineer with a team-centric attitude and a drive to improve in my team, than an experienced developer with vast expertise in specific technical disciplines but who does not play well with others.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying say that you should populate the team entirely with new graduates who possess a positive attitude. On the contrary, what you are looking for is the right blend: a mix of skills and experience levels, introverts and extroverts. Overall, you want a group of people who are happy to collaborate and want the team to succeed.

Set clear, realistic goals

At the beginning of a new project or the inception of a new team, make sure to set clear, realistic goals as soon as you can. Including all team members in that process will give those goals a better chance of actually being adopted.

Business goals can co-exist with technical and process goals, but they must be defined in a way that the team and its individual members can identify with and get behind. Also, make sure to encourage the team and the business to define goals that are measurable.

The team has to work together

Encourage the team to collaborate on as many tasks as possible. If there are four developers in the team, don’t work on four distinct features if you want to build a great team. Instead, try working on a single feature. That feature will be better understood across the team, better architected, more likely to actually work and will be ready to deliver to users more quickly.

Working together will reinforce the team’s shared values and behaviors. More importantly, it will mean that one person’s blocking problem is everyone’s blocking problem. Similarly, one person’s success is everyone’s success.

Continuously improve

Taking time to reflect on what has happened on a project and making things better is also a key part of building an Agile team. Team members need to be able to highlight problems that have impeded, disrupted or upset them. They need to be given the opportunity and the permission to resolve problems or take steps to avoid issues arising again. The team is self-repairing, leading to a proactive attitude.

Success will be celebrated

When being in a successful Agile team, success is always enjoyed.  If team members putt in all their efforts to do great work but receive no recognition, their motivation can be consumed and their commitment to the team’s cause may decrease. Make sure to include time in your meetings for highlighting team and individual achievements, reinforcing the feeling that you are part of a great team.

Agile allows you to deliver business value quickly and continually throughout a project, and happy Agile people build successful Agile teams. Are you part of an Agile Team? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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