December 26th, 2012 | Katie McCroskey
Lessons learned at Agile Coaches Camp 2012
Agile Coaches Camp is something I look forward to every year: catching up with familiar faces and friends; hearing everyone’s horror stories, funny stories, accomplishments and successes, and most importantly – lessons learned over the year.
It is two days of education on a vast array of topics, from shaping team culture, Agile engineering practices, Scrum vs. Kanban, dealing with a difficult team member and complex Enterprise Agile issues. There is a topic of interest for everyone, that’s because the group picks the topics – there are no premeditated sessions and no prearranged speakers. Whatever happens at Agile Coaches camp was supposed to happen – the right people are there, and the conversations flow as they are meant to flow. I always leave feeling inspired.
Personally, my goal of Agile coaches camp was to explore Agile organizational culture and team environments. Well-built Agile teams operate seamlessly – with effectiveness and precision. Team dynamics are a crucial piece to the puzzle – there also must be respect and the willingness to help. The overall dominating perspective regarding Agile teams is that the whole team succeeds and fails as one. But here comes the challenge – how do you create that type of Agile team environment?
Through first-hand experience, great conversations at Agile Coaches Camp, and a few books read – I’ve come up with a few key factors that contribute to developing a strong Agile team.
First, the right people are important. It takes the right personalities, professional skills, individual drive, and willingness to work in a team environment. Another critical aspect of an Agile team is its never-ending drive to improve and status quo is never acceptable. This constant creation of change and continual learning in an Agile environment is typical. Stepping outside comfort zones is crucial for growth but isn’t always for everyone. It is this desire to change, grow and learn that builds great teams and experienced people.
Another important element to an Agile team is the ability to self-organize. Natural leaders emerge and there has to be enough trust, respect, and team buy-in for the team in order for this self-organization to occur in a productive direction. Simply, one weak link in the chain can disrupt the productivity of the unit and break the bond for the entire team.
Overall, the key to successful Agile teams is the overarching mindset that the team fails and succeeds as one unit. This concept can be applied to all shapes and varieties of an Agile team – from a team of developers/analysts/testers/designers to an entire organization that operates reflecting the Agile mindset.