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Five Qualities of a Remarkable Agile Team

05.21.2014
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All managers want employees with excellent development and organizational skills, but when forming an Agile team, talent alone won’t cut it. An Agile dream team will not only communicate clearly and often, but will thrive on generating quality production ready software, which is synchronized in handling dependencies and developed on a regular cadence. This level of efficient development doesn’t happen by accident. It is largely reliant on having the right Agile team members in place and leveraging these Agile processes and practices.

Excellent communication skills

This team is so skilled at communicating with each other and others they come in contact with, you may not notice initially. In order to understand how they make communication seamless, you must pay particular attention to the process they utilize. This team will always enter work and status updates virtually and or physically. The ‘Stand-Ups’ will be so efficient, that latecomers may miss the recap of activities and highlights. They will pair when needed, and swarm to ensure that work is accomplished.  They are so transparent, that a micro manager would be bored. Each team member does not think about communicating, but inherently does it, even in a distributed team environment.

They are true team players

The team player mentality is essential in any successful group, but in Agile teams, the ability to work as a cohesive team is everything. Attitude, accountability, reliability, goal alignment and complementary skill sets are necessary traits possessed by team members, equipping them to handle any challenge. When members act as a team, they share responsibilities and tasks so no one person is left with too much or too little. This unified approach enables them to succeed on a daily basis.

No ‘Gold Plating’ allowed

A remarkable Agile team holds a low tolerance for team members who spend precious development time trying to outdo others in order to promote their own careers. This also applies to team members who place higher priority on the development of their own initiatives for fun, instead of focusing on the team’s goal. This team truly understands the business value of what they are building, and will not tolerate ‘Gold Plating’. Team members all agree that there is a certain point at which too much time is being consumed by one feature or story. They then decide together when the value is not equal to the excessive development effort.

Testing is not an afterthought

The old adage, ‘think before you speak’ translates to ‘think before you write code’ in software product development. Developers should always think before they write one line of code. This high-performance, remarkable Agile team thinks deeply about the design and expected outcome of the feature or story before writing any code. This team also believes that their design will be better if they look at how the feature or story should be tested. This is the motivation behind writing tests first.  Developers and testers alike have a common goal: to ensure quality code is written and available for use, which meets the customer’s acceptance. This team also utilizes tests to enable them to extend their product’s features without the risk of continually breaking another feature. Each team member knows the value of good tests and that thinking ahead leads to a better quality software product.

Continual Improvement

How many teams end up skipping their Agile retrospective because they needed more time to complete the committed workload? Many organizations see this practice, but a remarkable Agile team would thrive on being involved in the retrospective, no matter what they accomplished. This team understands the value of a continual feedback loop. They know they can only improve upon their practices. When they succeed, they want to acknowledge one another for their successes. This team also wants to understand how to improve. When they are able to review with fresh minds what factors caused them to underachieve, the team grows with confidence knowing they will do better. This team will evaluate, assign and resolve the facets of development which caused them to underachieve. A remarkable Agile team will always seek knowledge and follow a process to gain this knowledge.

No one said this remarkable Agile team would be easy to assemble, so why not grow the team with these qualities? It only takes one strong lead with the right knowledge and attitude to help cultivate this team. Sure, as the manager, you do not always have the opportunity to find someone you can trust to lead, but if you acknowledge these five qualities of a remarkable Agile team, you can grow one yourself. 

Published at DZone with permission of its author, Nathan Slippen.

(Note: Opinions expressed in this article and its replies are the opinions of their respective authors and not those of DZone, Inc.)

Comments

Raging Infernoz replied on Sat, 2014/05/31 - 6:14am

The question is, do you want to get stuff done lean, or waste time faffing around with waffling methodologies like agile?  I've found that regular meetings were a mind numbing time waster and we got more done without them.

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