How to create an agile team in your startup
With the agile methodology gaining more supporters than ever, more and more organizations choose to form an agile team to handle projects with minimal costs and better efficiency. What is an agile team and how can the agile methodology increase performance?
An agile team, due to the agile methodology, allows you to respond and adapt quickly to change with a negligible disturbance of the workflow. Implementing an agile team requires unwavering dedication, a new work philosophy, and ability to stick to these guidelines:
1. Understand Your Role
As a creative thinker, your role is to put together an agile team that will set in motion the agile principles. As a leader, you must be open to change, remain flexible throughout, and empower your agile team to express their views. That’s your role in your agile team.
2. Hit the Ground Running
If you want an agile team, you must be ready to hit the ground running, i.e., don’t waste time. Understand the technology, the challenges of the agile methodology, as well as the agile team roles and agile team structure. Most importantly, define your goal as a team.
3. Understand the Problems You Need Solve
An agile team must have a purpose and that purpose is to solve problems and to achieve that, you must know the issues you are targeting. Once you identify the issues you must tackle, you need to prioritize them and determine when to solve each problem.
4. Keep the Pace Going
An agile team is a fast-paced team and you are the driving force that keeps it going and handling challenges as they occur. You must keep the pace going, or you are no agile team. Your work is your focus disrupted only by short breaks. Communication is key to a steady pace, and so are the tools that your agile team members need to perform their roles well.
5. Planning is Required
As a team leader and builder, you must have excellent planning skills. Organize meetings designed to recognize and categorize short-term goals and understand their role within the agile team’s long-term goals. Planning is your job as an agile development team leader.
6. Make Face-To-Face Communication
No matter how you look at it, there’s nothing better than face-to-face communication. No other means of communication, no matter how technologically advanced, can convey efficiently as much information as face-to-face communication.
Plus, face-to-face communication reduces drastically the probability of team members misinterpreting or misunderstanding messages.
7. Motivation is Key
Your agile team must consist of highly-driven individuals and your role is to empower them to deal with their tasks in the manner that they know best. Give them responsibilities and allow them to handle matters their way and they will succeed because they are motivated.
8. Allow for a Self-Organizing Team
Your part in your agile team is neither micromanagement nor task assignment or decision-making for your team members. NO, you are a facilitator, meaning that you will allow your agile team members to identify the team structure that suits their specific team best.
9. Keep Things Simple as Much as Possible
Less is more. No matter how many times you hear it, you still need to hear it one more time because it is human nature to over-complicate things. Go back to simple, concise, and clear in all aspects of your work, from communication to metrics measuring your success.
10. Review Your Agile Team’s Work Regularly
Reviewing the work of your agile team at the end of the project is not what the agile methodology is about; you must adopt the practice of reviewing your team’s work regularly. Regular reviews are the only way to measure the team’s effectiveness and adjust your strategy in accordance to meet the team’s objective better.
11. Preserve Your Nascent Agile Team Culture
When you set up an agile team, you start small and, as your agile process starts making sense and working, you will tend to expand your organization, i.e., your team. BUT, as you expand, you risk losing that team spirit or culture that has gotten you where you are now.
With larger teams, it is difficult, even impossible, to maintain that small team culture. You can’t bring on new people from other organizations and expect your agile culture to stay the same because those new people have a different way of doing things and it’s not your way.
You must educate your new people and adapt them to your budding agile culture and not vice versa. Invest in their education and training and make them part of your culture or they’ll change your culture, and you’ll lose the drive that has enhanced your start-up.
12. Win Hearts and Minds with Education
Education is the best way to win new hire’s hearts and minds and make them put their hearts and souls into your product development organization and agile team culture. Training each new hire, no matter their position is an approach that works every time.
Workshops, where each new hire builds a prototype of an app, are also great at winning hearts and minds over. This type of workshops allows a deep understanding of the value of SCRUM and the user story mapping and how they work.
Using this strategy, you will end up with new team members that are in love with building products using the agile methodology. You’d have also won their respect!
13. Hire the Right People
Human resources remain the greatest asset of any organization, and your agile organization is no exception. If you plan a start-up that will be increasing in size at a rapid pace, recruiting the right make can make or break your plan. Here are some guidelines in this respect:
- Look for people that have the mindset to fit into your start-up culture; You can teach skills later, but you can never show an idiot to be nice.
- Hire people that are naturally driven to do well because they will put their hearts and souls into your projects.
- Hire a team, not a bunch of individuals; look for individuals that are likely to work well together as a team, not individually.
- Put together a diverse agile team because diversity enhances creativity.
- Let your agile team select team members because that will reduce failures more than you can imagine. Yes, your HR department will not be happy, but you must remember that you aim for a team that self-organizes.
14. Team Building
Team building remains as crucial as always for any organization. The same team that wins is the team that also loses, so team building is essential, which is why you need to:
- Allow for teams to form themselves
- Allow teams to self-manage in time
- Allow teams to get cross-functional
- Allow high-performing teams to co-locate
In time, you will learn a whole lot of lessons related to team-building, such as onboarding new members adequately or staying away from shuffling members between teams.
Also, it’s not smart to have line managers and subordinates as teammates. It’s not smart to use delegation poker to contract out responsibilities from the agile team to management.
It is not easy to turn an agile team into an agile organization. It is indeed a more protracted and wearisome journey that you’d expect. Start by answering a simple question about the start-up you plan to form: what will drive your future organization?
Will it be a product-driven start-up, a sales-driven enterprise, or tech-driven company? No matter which culture you choose to stick to, you need to be a learning organization to deal with fierce competition, fast-changing technologies, and big players.