Ensuring Teamwork with the Agile Approach
July 4, 2012
How to Benefit from the Agile Manifesto
It is nearly impossible to do a project without effective teamwork. The term “teamwork” means the process of acting collaboratively with a group of people in order to accomplish a shared objective. Teamwork creates and shapes the collaborative effort the team makes to move the project to success.
However, it is complicated enough and brings a set of challenges. In this article I’m going to describe three components of the Agile approach that can help project managers team up their people and ensure effective collaboration.
The Agile Approach
Business people and developers involved in using Agile PM methodologies know that effective teamwork is entirely based on how well they collaborate and communicate with each other. The Agile Manifesto (agilemanifesto.org) declares the 12 principles (agilemanifesto.org/principles.html) that determine how teams involved in software, technology, website, marketing and other projects must work with each other in order to succeed.
Following the Agile principles, there are three major areas that identify successful collaboration and teamwork, as follows:
- Project developers and customers must daily communicate and collaborate with each other throughout the entire development process
- A better motivated team member will work better in the collaborative environment
- Face-to-face conversation is the best way to convey information within a team
These thee areas are the basis of the Agile approach. With such an approach, project managers are able to build productive teams and ensure teamwork. The approach means that people must cooperate and communicate with each other using their individual skills, providing constructive feedback to each other and upper management, and trying to avoid any personal conflict.
Three Factors Influencing Teamwork
The Agile approach declares that effective teamwork is based on three factors, as follows:
Communications between teams drive project success. Effective communication channels allow delivering information in a way that ensures the intended message is clearly and properly understood by the receiver. In other words, both the sender and the receiver are able to transfer information through their filters with minimum loss and distortion.
The Agile approach assumes that direct communication is the best way to transfer information between people. And open and face-to-face dialogues are a kind of direct communication. Developers, customers, sponsors and other stakeholders must daily communicate directly through face-to-face dialogues driven by empathy and trust.
It is a two-way flow of information between team members, which is inherent to all interactions of those individuals. Feedback allows exchanging information in a way that determines how two or more individuals must adjust their current and future behavior in order to achieve the desired outcome.
The Agile approach regards feedback as the mechanism of reacting to an action or behavior. Through implementing such a mechanism into an iterative development environment, project managers are able to increase awareness and insight of teams as well as foster innovation and encourage positive changes. Teamwork depends upon how well group members use continuous feedback to explore better behaviors and take positive risks.
Within an agile project development environment, feedback should:
- State a clear purpose, so that team members know what to start, stop and continue doing
- Be specific and descriptive, in order to explain the team how to do things when it comes to iteration work
- Determine positive alternatives, such that the team will be able to take positive risks in doing things differently
Good motivation is a combination of effective communication and productive feedback. In other words, a well-motivated individual within an agile project environment is able to effectively communicate with team-mates and upper management and to adjust his/her actions or behavior and take positive risks.
Teamwork is based on motivation which in turn is built on compromise, encouragement and partnership. Motivation means that there is no need to make concessions that damage trust between stakeholders and teams. A motivated person is ready to work with others and meet commitments within the collaborative environment.
Motivation also entails removing any impediments and unrealistic expectations that derail the creative impulses of team-mates and destruct team unity. And teamwork will be established when teams are motivated, which means they collaborate on the basis of trust, partnership and self-directedness.