Early in our agile transition, my team had to educate the business managers and show them that while they own the business priorities, we own the technical implementation. After all, they hired us because we're the experts in delivering software. When they said, "Couldn't you just work late one day and squeeze in this one extra story?" we didn't say, "We'll try.” We said, "You can't put ten pounds of sugar in a five pound bag." When they asked, "Can't you just hack a quick solution?" we explained how doing things the right way would save them a huge amount of time and money in the long run. We showed them how technical debt works. Yes, sometimes there is a business need to do a quick-and-dirty solution, but we always go back and pay that debt.
Last year, there was a sudden need to deliver significant new functionality quickly. Our manager and our product owner pushed for a crazy hack solution, but we explained that it wouldn't take us much longer to do it the right way. Because our team has learned to identify simpler technical implementations and push back on the business to agree to them, we did three times our average number of story points in one two-week sprint. We don't usually pay attention to our velocity; it's just a number that helps the business plan. But, the stack of story and task cards that we finished in one sprint—especially one which included a holiday and some team members on vacation—was pretty impressive. We didn't work overtime or stress out. Our years of investment helped us to go quickly.
Yes, I guess you can say our team is "special," but it isn't due to pixie dust It's because of a lot of small experiments, and our pride in what we deliver. If you see a comment from me on a blog post that says, "Here is what worked for my team," don't discount it out of hand. Think about how your team might educate your own managers and try some small experiments. Your team might become special, too!