Successful Agile Needs Teamwork

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people are encouraged to learn from their mistakes.

The Window on Work Values helps explain why problems exist within any group of people working together. Value types define core frameworks that people hold and for which they are prepared to expend considerable quantities of energy in either promoting or defending. Most people will hold three or four of the values reasonably strongly and because of the structure of the model these values are more likely to be concentrated in one particular section, giving rise to key value patterns which are useful in understanding and predicting individual and group behavior.

It’s possible to give team members feedback on their individual values, which range in a hierarchy from highest to lowest. While we will often negotiate around those values at the lower levels we will try to preserve and defend those values at the higher level. For example, the values of Independence and Individualism are most important to me and those of Compliance and Conformity are of least importance. Therefore I find it hard to work in an environment where the culture is one of Compliance and Conformity.

Equally a person with strong values in the area of Authority and Individualism will find it hard to work in an environment where Equality and Collectivism are valued. As these latter value types are fundamental to Agile teamwork, it easy to predict the problems that might arise - particularly if the person is an ex-PM now joining an Agile team.

Shared Values

For Agile teams to be effective there needs to be a Team Charter containing a list of shared values that everyone agrees to abide by. This charter can then be posted in the meeting room and if any team member acts in a way that violates an agreed behavior then it’s easy for other team members to draw attention to it in a positive way.

When creating the Values Charter it’s useful to show the Window on Work Values spider diagram (see below) which breaks down the broad value types in component values. The agreed shared values are then easy to convert into ground rules of action and behavior that can then be listed in the charter.

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As an example, here is a list of agreed values that I developed for one particular Agile team.

In terms of the Window on Work Values our team holds most strongly the value types of Empowerment and Equality. As such we aim to focus on the needs of our group, working with a high degree of organizational freedom. We also support the value types of Independence and Individualism which encourage team members to meet their own needs while supporting one another to achieve the team goals.

 

In support of the values comprising these value types we agree on the following ground rules that will guide the behaviors and actions in our team:

 

  • There will be open and effective communication
  • We will focus on our individual strengths and assign tasks accordingly
  • Full participation is expected by each team member
  • We will come to meetings fully prepared
  • Everyone will update the electronic Wall daily
  • Members are to communicate when under pressure
  • There will be a focus on team goals before personal agendas
  • We acknowledge that everyone brings value, talent, skill and resources to the team
  • Members are to minimize assumptions when writing user stories
  • Wherever possible we should have ‘fun’
  • We encourage and respect different ideas
  • We are open to new ideas and will listen supportively
  • We will help one another
  • Failures are to be learnt from in a positive way
  • Personal learning is

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