We are all well aware of the benefits of working in an effective collaborative environment, hitting the delivery sweet spot and meeting and exceeding customer needs. With many organisations adopting Agile working practices across their business functions, maximising collaboration amongst teams will ensure these working practices thrive. This can be the difference between attempted Agile working and effective Agile implementation.
Here are our 5 top tips for maximising Agile collaboration in your organisation:
Getting buy-in may sound obvious; however, the number of organisations that try to embrace Agile practices without complete buy-in across all teams is still disturbingly high.
First and foremost, you need buy-in from your team, your stakeholders and most importantly your customer. Agile working and collaboration is a mindset, and success is a lot to do with getting everyone involved to share that. Help them to understand the benefits of Agile delivery, how it will work in practice, and what is required from them to achieve successful Agile collaboration.
Having the right tools for the job
While one of the Agile principles is to put individuals and interactions over processes and tools and encouraging teams to solve problems through collaborative working, there are some great tools that help teams to collaborate effectively when working in an Agile environment. Tools such as Slack, Google Hangouts and WebEx, all allow teams to work together to complete tasks and resolve issues in real-time, without having to be in the same room.
Communicating the vision/goal
Effective Agile collaboration is reliant on effective communication both within the Agile team and outside of it. Within your team, planning, stand-ups (daily/weekly check-ins on progress and issues in the current work period, or sprint), sprint reviews and retrospectives (lessons learned sessions) are key to making sure the team don’t lose sight of not only the short term tactical deliverable but the longer-term project goal and ultimate end game. Outside of the Agile team, it’s important to bring the customer and stakeholders on the journey with you in a way that is easy for them to digest, particularly if Agile working is new to your organisation. This could be through presenting progress in the form of prototypes that show the iterative development of a product, or customer feedback that can help shape the decisions made going forward.
Agile delivery becomes ineffective very quickly where the context/reasons behind decisions are not understood by those receiving the communications. It is key to have a shared understanding of what you’re aiming to achieve between all parties, to maximise Agile collaboration.
Evolve as you progress
A key part of Agile working is continuous improvement. Using regular retrospectives/reviews to identify what elements of the process are going well, what isn’t and what improvements could be made will keep your team working and collaborating effectively. An ideal opportunity is at the end of a sprint, as you’re already reviewing the outputs with your customer and you can involve them to increase their buy-in for the process.
The Tuckman model of team development is split into 4 distinct phases: Forming, Storming, Norming and Performing. For your team to hit that performing ‘sweet spot’ they need to learn how to work best with each other, but there is also a need to be learning from each other. Mentoring isn’t just something reserved for junior colleagues to learn from senior colleagues, within an Agile environment it’s a real opportunity to maximise collaboration because the team’s ability and impact increases over time.
When it comes to Agile working, collaboration is key to maximising the opportunity and delivering effectively. For more information on how to improve Agile collaboration in your organisation, please contact Simon Adams firstname.lastname@example.org.