Have you ever wondered how anyone gets anything done? How do people stay motivated to push out product after product with value? What about how teams actually work well together while everyone feels necessary to the project’s functionality? This year’s Agile Palooza 2016 held by VersionOne in Falls Church, VA focused heavily on how teams can better collaborate to keep releasing quality products and leading teams internally from a self-managed workplace. Here’s what spoke to me:
LitheSpeed’s own Sanjiv Augustine was first to the podium with a promising message for team cohesion. His presentation topic Leadership for Innovation and Resilience led to an interesting talk about how we can make our teams more collaborative based on the self-management work style and team-based governance. Not only does a collaborative team lead to better output, but the team is also more driven towards an end goal when it finds purpose in what it’s doing. Seems like pretty intuitive stuff, but surprisingly, most companies don’t understand, let alone adopt, these principles.
One way to introduce [cross] team collaboration? Ask a question. Jeff Cook and Matt Badgely led a discussion based on the reactions team meetings can sometimes bring. The looks of “When will this meeting be over?” “Does he really care about what we’re trying to do here?” or “Why can’t we be on the same page?” plastered across the faces of teams unable to sit through a meeting is something we all can relate to. Cook’s book Group Glue lists hundreds of questions, some simple, some more complex and needing of meaningful answers, that can be asked of groups in any situation to start a conversation. These conversations shouldn’t be around work related topics, but of topics everyone can relate to. When you have ten people answer “What is the worst smell you’ve ever smelled?” you tend to learn a thing or two about the people around you. And that’s good! The right questions can lead to thoughtful conversations, which can then lead to a more collaborative and, dare I say, happy team.
When teams are working cohesively, they tend to be more productive. I know – another revelation. Don’t stop me; I’m on a roll. Sometimes, though, we are productive for the sake of being productive and our end result isn’t the product we originally intended it to be. Anne Steiner boldly admitted not one, but two of her previous failures within teams that were productive, but for the wrong reasons. The teams she was working with had some of the best developers and testers out there, but failed to work collaboratively and constantly talk with the customer. She reiterated the need for constant feedback through frequent releases and to discuss these feedback submissions within the team to map out a plan of attack for fixing bugs, adding features, or just moving on to the next task. Process success doesn’t guarantee product success, but what does guarantee product success is continuous feedback and proactive teams working in cohesion.
The takeaway message: Create a culture of continuous improvement by working collaboratively with the folks on your team.
If you missed Sanjiv’s presentation and want to see his thoughts on innovative leadership and resilience, click here: https://lithespeed.com/agilepalooza-presentation/
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For more information on speakers and the topic presentations they delivered, please visit the AgilePalooza DC website here: https://agilepalooza.versionone.com/event/washingtondc/
**Note: Not every speaker from this event is mentioned in this post