One of the principles behind the Agile Manifesto is “At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly.” Unfortunately, many associate that practice with performing team retrospectives at the end of a sprint, or periodically in kanban. But if you seek to build a high-performing team, there are more improvement activities you should consider adopting.
In software development, we're constantly learning new skills because we have to. Technology and its associated best practices are constantly changing, but this is a good thing—it means our industry is evolving quickly. It also means we are constantly on the learning curve. Having a good mindset about continuously learning can help you go far in the software world.
At the core of agile is the need to effectively communicate and interact with your team members, so it's important for all roles to practice soft skills. However, there is nothing soft about them. Soft skills are probably the most challenging thing you can focus on in your technical career. Rather than struggle to improve by yourself, develop these skills through collaboration.
Multitasking can sabotage your productivity, but with all our different responsibilities, it's often a necessary evil. However, your work quality and quantity don’t have to suffer. These agile techniques can help you avoid interruptions, organize your to-do list, and regain focus after switching tasks.
Many organizations enforce systems that stifle flexibility by promoting specialization. But encouraging learning new skills and expanding outside core responsibilities promotes flow over resource efficiency, helps cover gaps in time of crisis, and lets you build a team that can deliver continually at a sustainable pace. It's the age of the generalist.
You can learn all the theoretical agile principles and best practices, but you still may not be agile. To be truly agile, you must also communicate and collaborate with your team—and this means speaking up. Even if you're not a natural extrovert, there are plenty of ways you can contribute during planning, sprints, and retrospectives to make your product and process better.
Some people are born with the traits most suited to becoming an effective leader. Others may find that they have to work a lot harder to achieve success in a leadership role. But each of us has some innate potential to step up and take charge. If your team needs direction, don't be afraid to discover whether you could be the one to provide it.
When you're speaking, teaching, or coaching, do you ever suddenly feel like you're in way over your head? That there must've been a big mistake, because you're not qualified? Instead of letting this imposter's syndrome paralyze you, there are ways to embrace being outside your comfort zone and turn your self-doubt into a chance to thrive.
For many, pair programming delivers benefits such as increased focus, improved team relationships, and better code. Tom Breur and Michael Mahlberg found that pair writing can work, too, and the advantages bear a lot of resemblance to those of pair programming—more concentration, productive feedback, and better writing.
Agile teams are self-organizing, which means they do not need supervisors—at least in theory. But they do need leaders to create a shared vision of what the product will be. And having an agile team means that anyone can step up … including you. Lanette Creamer outlines seven qualities possessed by great agile leaders.