This is a guest post written by Kat Boogard, a writer for Toggl who covers a little bit of everything — but places most of her focus on career, communication, and self-development topics.
So, you want to be an amazing agile team. Who can blame you? It’s human nature to want to build something awesome, especially when your team is just starting to take shape. You’re in it to win it. You want to release great software—all while making it look easy.
But, unfortunately, there’s no magic recipe, secret sauce, or tried-and-true formula to becoming a truly top-notch team — which is what agile is all about. It’s supposed to be different and ever-changing depending on each team and its circumstances.
However, there are six key strategies that can help you make your team an awesome one. Try these on for size:
6 tips for creating your agile team
1. Remember that patience is a virtue.
When you think of an amazing agile team, you likely think of something that functions like a well-oiled machine. And, in an ideal world, that’s how things should work, but that doesn’t mean things will work like that right from the get-go.
It takes a while to get a feel for how people work together and to fall into a system that really flows — that concept holds true whether you’re working as part of an agile team or not. And according to Tuckman’s “Stages of Group Development”, teams go through several phases: forming, storming, norming, and performing. This process naturally takes time.
So, don’t get bent out of shape thinking that your team is doomed for failure simply because there are still a few kinks to work out. Patience is a virtue.
2. Respond to change.
Agile would be much easier if you could simply set everything in stone, and then know that things would remain exactly the same forever, right? But, as you already know, that’s just not the way it works.
Change is inevitable. And, a key element of agile teams is the ability to respond to those changes, rather than always trying to stay committed to a previous plan. The best teams constantly reevaluate their priorities and shift their resources accordingly.
Yes, agile relies heavily on order and organization. But, you can’t be so rigid that there’s no flexibility for you to roll with the punches.
3. Focus on results.
The beauty of an agile team is that it focuses more on results and outcomes, rather than obsessing over processes and procedures.
By placing more emphasis on the results, team members feel empowered to make decisions, solve problems, and develop innovative solutions using whatever skills and expertise they have.
It doesn’t matter what type of team you’re working on—everybody likes to feel trusted, valued, and empowered to get work done.
4. Don’t miss the forest for the trees.
What’s the key word in “agile team”? You might immediately conclude it’s “agile”, but the operative word there is actually “team”.
In a traditional team, it becomes all too easy to get tunnel vision, focusing exclusively on your individual responsibilities. However, this just won’t work when you’re part of an agile team.
In order to be successful, you need to foster an environment where everyone is accountable for the final product — and not just their individual contribution. This allows every team member to recognize that their efforts are contributing to the bigger picture, while also reaffirming the entire team concept to fail together and succeed together.
To be successful, foster an environment where everyone’s accountable for the final product.
5. Seek and use feedback.
Here’s the cold, hard truth: It doesn’t matter how streamlined your processes are, or how fast you’re able to churn out software, if you aren’t actually creating the right product. And, the only way to know that you’re on the right track is to gather lots and lots of feedback.
Successful agile teams have systems and methods in place to get their software out in front of customers as soon as possible so that they can collect feedback early on and incorporate it into the product.
Beyond customer feedback, great teams are also extremely transparent with each other. They don’t sweep problems under the rug. They remain completely honest and view any blunders or roadblocks as opportunities to continuously learn and ultimately improve. Holding retrospectives can help a lot to achieve that.
6. Trust like you’ve never trusted before.
You knew this had to appear on the list somewhere, didn’t you? Ultimately, an agile team is nothing without trust. It’s essential, and it all comes back to the core concept of truly functioning as a team.
Every member of the team needs to trust that others will hold up their ends of the bargain and get things done when and how they said they would do them.
Becoming an awesome agile team isn’t just a pipe dream—it’s totally doable, as long as you implement these key strategies and remain patient. Give it a try, and prepare to be amazed!
In addition to these tips, there are tools and add-ons that can help your agile team work like a dream. Take the new Toggl for JIRA integration, which was developed to help teams better stay in the loop and ensure things are staying on track. Check it out in the Atlassian marketplace today.