High Performance Teams Emerge

21 Jul

Something that came across to me last week when delivering a suite of Agile courses is how high-performance teams emerge.   One day of the course covers the identification of reuirements as stories; to help make it real we used two actual projects that the customer is about to start.  They are the two most important pieces of work this group is currently facing, so the pressure is real.

We had 25-or-so people in the class, so they split into two groups (based around the teams that will actually work on the projects).  I briefly explained the theory of stories and turned the teams loose. 

It was wonderful to behold – there was a bit of thrashing at the beginning, then the teams self-organised and worked fantastically together.  After about 2 hours we paused and had a brief retrospective (what’s working, what’s not, what still confuses me…) to ensure the teams remained on point. 

The session continued until about 4:30, at which time we stopped and asked what had been achieved.  The reaction was one of wonder – in the course of a single day of workshop they had scoped and prioritised the two most important pieces of work facing their group for the next 6 months.  Every person in the teams understood their project goals and objectives and what the most important features need to deliver. 

Some of the comments I heard inclided:

We achieved in one day what normally takes us six weeks

For the first time I understand why we are doing a project

It was an energising experience for me to facilitate, and I got the feeling it was great for the participants.

I’m going to send this link to the people who were in the session and ask them to comment.  I wonder if their experiences were the same as mine…

Posted by Shane Hastie


Posted by on July 21, 2009 in Agile, Courses



3 responses to “High Performance Teams Emerge

  1. James King

    July 25, 2009 at 8:40 pm

    Excellent outcome. Its amazing what people get done when given a bit of clarity and a lot of trust

  2. Adrian Law

    July 27, 2009 at 10:00 pm

    I was lucky enough to be involved in one of the groups, and through the combination of practical theory and a real live topic, we discovered during the day how the whole process can come together to best effect for our environment.

    In my opinion, the fundamental business benefit going forward by adopting Agile projects is best summed up by the acronym MMF (Minimal Marketable Featureset). Smaller, more frequent projects both increases our chances of success, and will get our products to market quantums quicker than we currently achieve.

    For me, the two key related insights that stood out were to i) really focus on clarifying sponsor/organisation goals and objectives with all the key participants, AND ii) resist at all costs the temptation to dig into the featuresets and functional detail before that has been achieved. Nothing worse than a “loaded gun aimed in the wrong direction”.

    Overall the training should be considered a great success however that really just gets us to the starting line in becoming Agile. It’s a cliche I know but the big challenges are still yet to come although I do feel very confident something great was created during the training. If we can harness that, we’ll have every chance of making IT happen!

  3. John Watson

    August 1, 2009 at 10:34 am

    I really enjoyed reading Adrian Law’s comment. For me, the third paragraph is of particular interest.

    I think one of the keys to true agility is knowing what organisational/business outcome is required before focussing on product features.

    The brick producing factory might have wonderful features: but what a waste of time and effort if you forget the required outcome is to make money through brick sales. Do you have to make and sell your own bricks or could you make more money by selling someone else’s bricks?


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