Agile team

We’ve all heard the cliché: Agile teams are self-organised and self-managed.

However, if it’s that simple, why are organisations not consistently churning out self-managed teams delivering solutions in a smooth manner? In reality, there are plenty of dynamics involved in enabling agile teams, and there are multiple factors that play a big part in nurturing self-managed teams.

In order for agile teams to mature, there needs to be an internal ‘drive’ for the team to continuously challenge themselves, helping them to deliver faster and evolve into a state of self-management.

The two keys to mature agile teams

So how is it that some agile teams are able to mature quicker than others? Is there some secret ingredient that can help a team to mature faster?

There are two key elements to influencing agile teams:

  1. The team composition
  2. The operating environment

The team composition

What is an agile team?

We define it as a team that covers the set of cross-functional roles needed to deliver incremental value to the customer. But of course it doesn’t stop there. There needs to be some thought behind how the team is structured. Do they have the right attributes? In other words – do they have the attitude, skills, behaviour and team dynamics needed to ensure that the end result is greater than the sum of each individual’s performance?

A successful team needs at least one or two members who challenge the status quo. They need to be willing to take on challenges and – most importantly – have the ability to carry the team along.

The contrary scenario would mean having a team where nobody has the attitude to challenge or stretch the boundaries. This means the team members, despite being decent people, won’t challenge themselves very much. The team would be happy with what they do, and slowly improve over time.

Even having a good Scrum Master is no guarantee for excellence. One individual can encourage the team to do some soul searching to some extent, but chances are it would not make a great deal of difference in the long run. There needs to be a constant push.

The operating environment

Another critical factor for enabling the agile team to mature is the operating environment. This could be anything from the immediate managers, leaders in the domain, organisational process and – to some extent – geographic and cultural aspects.

Even the best minds and the strongest challengers will be frustrated if the environment is not conducive to change.

The team will not always be able to solve all issues by themselves. So any issues that require support from outside of the team need to be carefully considered and addressed based on priority. If the issues aren’t given the right attention, the team will be discouraged from raising further issues down the line. A lack of supporting environment could dampen the team spirit. If the environment continues to be non-supportive, the team won’t be pushing their boundaries to strive for excellence.

How we do it

Here at Sandhata, we have extensive experience of operating Agile teams, and we understand how to get them working at their best. We offer true Agile and Lean management to help you overcome these hurdles, to mature your Agile teams, and to complement your DevOps transformation.

Want to find out more? Call us on 020 7680 7105 today!


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Saravanan Panchatcharam

DevOps and Agile Coach
Saravanan Panchatcharam is a Devops and Agile coach at Sandhata. He has 18 years of experience in software development, process management, product quality management, PMO, Agile delivery and coaching.

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