After being created, the team goes through a stage of formation and maturity, towards excellence.
How do you pursue excellence?
A team that is at the level of maturity of the pyramid, can and should continue to grow.
The development team must master the agile practices and know how to adopt the ones that bring the highest productivity, according to the product they are creating. For example, ensure full unit testing coverage, design customer acceptance tests, continuous integration, swarming, pair and mob programming or pair testing. The team should try different techniques to know their cost and application and thus be better prepared to choose the best in each situation.
By internalizing the Definition of Done, there is no need to have a written document. It’s a consensual thing. Do not forget that the DoD is a living document and therefore should always represent the current reality and be recognized by the client as well.
A team of excellence is concerned about consuming as little time as possible in estimates. The team should be able to balance the cost and benefit of drawing up an estimate. According to Mike Cohn (“Agile Estimation and Planning”, 10th edition, 2010), the effort to obtain an estimate and the accuracy obtained does not have a linear relation. With a relatively small effort one can achieve a normally acceptable accuracy. From a certain amount of effort, the gain, i.e. the accuracy obtained does not increase at the same rate as effort. So at this stage, the team should be able to figure out what is the ideal point between effort and accuracy that should be used in each estimation. There are other variables such as knowledge about business, new technologies and experience of team elements that should be taken into account.
A team that is very experienced and familiar with the technology and product is able to create user stories that are clear enough, with well defined objectives and of an identical size, so that it does not need to be estimated. Using the cycle time they can tell when they can have it done.
The Product Onwer has the vision of the product and shares it with the team. Your enthusiasm should be contagious and involve the whole team in this enthusiasm.
As a self-organized team, it needs to cultivate transparency and consolidate confidence among its elements. The team should focus on the objectives, manage the tasks and not use justifications related to lack of time. It is expected to remain alert and to be able to identify possible problems, to minimise risks and to create contingency plans. It is time to learn to ask surgical and pertinent questions that can bring time and effectiveness gains.
The team must recognize the importance of having space for innovation, learning and knowledge sharing and seek to create conditions for it. It should not be necessary for others to do so, such as Scrum Master, for example.
A team of excellence learns to manage “conflicts” by separating divergences of knowledge from personality clashes.
The Scrum Master is now almost invisible but he is always alert, attentive to the problems and the way the team surpasses them. He acts as an interlocutor with other teams and the rest of the organization, sharing the success of the team. He is concerned with creating environments conducive to the growth of the team and encourages continuous improvement. Essentially the Scrum Master assumes the role of coach and less of facilitator, mentor or teacher.
But teams are living organisms and so they are constantly changing. There are new elements coming in, there are others coming out and it is necessary that the Scrum Master supports the team in these changes.
When a team changes, either because it loses an element, either because it gains a new element, its balance is affected and it goes through an adaptation phase. At this stage, the team loses some of the characteristics of a team of excellence but still has the knowledge of how to do to walk again to excellence.
The different stages of development in Scrum are not steps, they are sets of skills and attitudes that characterize the teams at a certain stage of their growth.
These are some of my tips that can help you lead your teams towards excellence.
What are yours?
(picture: pear tree blossom from our orchard)