The Agile Tribe

Agile's Secret Sauce – Part 2

on October 21, 2010

Authors: Tracey Kay and Julian Coldrey

In part 1 of our blog our argument was that putting the right culture in place was essential for project success and without the right culture, Agile practices could not work.

Mixing the right culture

In part 2, we don’t know if it’s possible to fully describe all aspects of the ideal Agile team culture but we are going to have a try at describing what cultural themes and behaviours stood out as key contributors in our project team. We do this with the suspicion that the ideal Agile culture would look different for each team anyway.

After all, each group negotiates its dynamics according to the individuals involved and what goals are sought.

On our Agile team though, these are the elements we found lead us to project success:

  1. Humbleness. Of all the behaviours that mark a healthy Agile culture, we think being humble is the most important. After all, continuous improvement is one of the most productive characteristics of working Agile, and it’s hard to improve if you aren’t mindful of how much better things could be.
  2. Shared accountability. When everyone feels accountable for outcomes, people are more likely to step up, assist others, hold their team-mates accountable, and generally behave in a way that is aligned with project success.
  3. Intense collaboration. There seems to be a direct relationship between the intensity of collaboration, and the speed with which we’re able to power through challenges.
  4. Freedom to challenge. A team that continually challenges itself to improve and find better solutions usually does. This may not be a revelation, but it’s surprising how many teams adopt a “good enough” approach to their work, and how the solution can be as simple as remembering to ask “why?”
  5. Flexibility. We’ve gained so much from people being flexible with their roles and stepping in to fill gaps where required.
  6. Stepping up. The culture on our project has encouraged people to step up and show what they’re made of. As an aside, succession planning is a breeze in this kind of team environment.
  7. Energy and drive. Even the best run projects can be a slog at times. The team’s vibrant sense of motivation and fun has enabled us to push through these periods and come out the other end still smiling.

Feel free to let us know if we have missed any that you have found really works in your team as we are a team of lifelong learners as well and are always looking for ways to improve.

So in part 3 of our series on Agile’s secret sauce, we’ll be outlining some practices we implemented that helped drive this team culture.

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One response to “Agile's Secret Sauce – Part 2

  1. […] « Agile’s Secret Sauce – Part 2 […]

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