Work smarter, not faster

Transforming an organisation from taylorism into teams is always an exciting challenge. As an agile coach you might have a mental blue print or model of where you want to end up and how you are going to get there. In some cases the organisation is ready and able to act on your input and in other cases it’s a stepwise movement over time. Some of the challenge that you might identify up front might be true and acknowledged by the organisation, but not feasible to argue and implement without hard core facts.

If the organisation accept the term of moving into team work, some ways of accumulating facts to back the can be found from artefacts and events held with the team:

  • Introduce Scrum and staff the roles the best way possible. This can quickly identify some organisational issues that can be addressed: Impossible to identify a Product Owner with mandate to prioritise and work with a shared backlog. No shared work in the backlog, everything is based on individual employees. Unable to build a backlog as a single source of requirements or changes.
  • Start using burndown charts and cummulative flow diagrams actively. Charts and diagrams are easy to communicate and can typically be understood the organisation in combination with arguments: The burndown chart can track if the team is able to commit and deliver to a fixed set of work for a timeboxed period. The cummulative flow diagram can add information to the burndown chart helping identify where in the process work is stacking up.
  • Build easy tracking of impediments. Impediments are issues in the organisation or team that slows down the progres of work: Team members are working on items that are not in the backlog, team members are not allocated 100 % to the team, interday change of priorities, lack of technical skills or domain knownledge.
  • Proactively use retrospectives. Retrospectives are excellent oppertunities to listen to what the team feel is working and what could make the progress more awesome: Team members might not be 100 % allocated, but perhaps they can find a solution to either change the allocation or minimize context switches, interfaces to external stakeholders could be optimized by changing the way the team work internally, work could be shared and broken down differently to decrease resolution time.

All of the above will not solve the problems that you will face, however it will help accumulating facts to help the transformation to proceed. To fix them, you need to have a solid understanding of the organisation you are trying to change. Identify your key stakeholders, managers, directors, etc. and make sure to keep them close in the loop so they understand why you act the way you do and the impact of the impediments that you raise onbehalf of the team. Formally this could be in weekly followup sessions in combination with ad hoc sparring about the impediments that are being identified and fixed.

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