Top Five Tips for Starting Agile

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Having agilists in your team can help your team members’ skills, but you must consider that their productivity (or velocity) will be low to start with. Another option is to put the team members on a training course together so they can learn a common terminology and generate some helpful ideas. A course that offers practicals is preferable as it also allows the team members to build and get to know each other as well as learn about agile. Make sure there are mentors or coaches available for ongoing support.

The most important aspect is to give them an environment in which they are safe to fail fast, learn, and then adapt.

Tip: Trust Is Critical To A High Performing Team
One of the hardest things to embrace for those coming from a command-and-control environment is to trust the team. Let’s assume that you have done everything right so far, but you still need to strike the right balance. Your team members need to know that you are there to support them (or have put in a suitable support mechanism) but that you are not “keeping tabs” on them.

A lot of this will be seen in the way that you talk to team members. Have an open-door policy but let them make their own decisions. If they come to you with questions don’t just give them an answer but walk through with them potential solutions to help them make a decision as to what to do. Use phrases such as “What do you think?” Sometimes you just have to let them fail; it’s sometimes the best way for team members to learn, even if you can easily see the answer.

Once team members see that you are not going to be telling them what to do, they will start thinking for themselves. This is also reflected in the agile principles; for example, one of the statements says, “Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project.”

Cultivate a culture and environment where people are comfortable. Offer support when team members need it, but allow them self organise to perform their tasks and believe they will do it well.

About the author

Leanne Howard's picture Leanne Howard

Leanne Howard has over 20 years’ experience as a Test Manager, Principal Test Consultant and, most recently, Agile Practices Consultant. In her consultancy role (and as the author and chief examiner of a number of agile and testing courses, and exams) Leanne has gained a unique insight into the issues and frustrations that beset teams and individuals implementing or seeking to uplift agile processes. Leanne is a keen member of the larger IT community through meetup groups, ACS SIGs and writing articles to share her insights into her craft.

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