Getting New Agile Teams into Flow

[article]

fixed system attributes presents a classic roadblock to flow. A fixed schedule and fixed scope doesn't take into account the rough spots in value delivery: change in value definition, uncertainty of value complexity, and unexpected resource constraints. Flow systems seek constant adjusting and emergent decisions based on continuous feedback loops.

Low Test Automation
New agile teams push their agile maturity by concentrating on continually improving their quality levels in value delivery. That means vigilance around what tests to automate, how quickly they can be automated, and how often they can executed. Automated tests may at first "stop the line." However, in the end these tests keep the delivery of high-quality in flow.

Large Inventory of Defects or Technical Debt
Agile teams work to deliver value, and they work to do so in a rhythm of time boxes-in flow. Existing inventories of defect logs present a roadblock to value delivery. They are the unknown termites gnawing at the system stability and the team's ability to declare high-quality, regular delivery of value to the customer. Cleaning up the debt may be a required chore before flow can be achieved.

Results of Successful Team Flow
While the roadblocks to team flow can be daunting, there is a bright horizon for those new agile teams willing to make the journey. Teams in flow now have the disciplines to mature into even more discipline. They also have the scaffolding to invite scaling of agile to their fellow teams. In addition to delivering value, flow also results in:

  • Less friction, higher morale, more engagement in the process
  • Higher quality, more value, fewer defects to manage
  • Greater visibility and steering through empowered teams and amplified learning
     

So, consider flow as a guide for how your new agile team can take its initial disciplined steps to delivering value. You'll then be ready to mature into practices associated with lean thinking's notion of "pull"-but that's another story!

User Comments

1 comment
Sameh Zeid's picture
Sameh Zeid

Jean,

I enjoyed reading your article. I am just wondering whether a team can achieve the state of Flow without operating in time-boxes. For me, time-box implies that the team commits on certain value (fixed scope) to be delivered at the end of time-box (fixed-schedule). Does that commitment lend itself to the roadblock in the way of Flow?

Sameh

January 11, 2012 - 1:51pm

About the author

Jean Tabaka's picture Jean Tabaka

An agile coach with Rally Software Jean Tabaka specializes in creating and mentoring agile software teams. Bringing more than twenty-five years of experience in software development to the agile plate, Jean is a Certified ScrumMaster, Certified Scrum Trainer, Certified Professional Facilitator, and author of Collaboration Explained: Facilitation Skills for Software Project Leaders.

AgileConnection is one of the growing communities of the TechWell network.

Featuring fresh, insightful stories, TechWell.com is the place to go for what is happening in software development and delivery.  Join the conversation now!