Individuality has significant value in the western world. We tend to view people’s greatest accomplishments as those that are most unique to their talents and abilities. When it comes to software, however, you need to adjust your views of what makes for a truly great accomplishment. Software, really great software that is, is far too complex for one, single person to make or even successfully manage alone. You need an integrated team.
When you’re thinking about the kind of team you need, it helps to consider what your end goal is: a functional software product that can respond to the needs of a diverse set of users. If you were to sit down and think about what your future users want, you’d be limited by your experiences. Get more people in the room contributing to your list and you’ll have more ideas of what users might be looking for in a product. Counterintuitively, having a solid team design a product helps to tailor it to the individual.
How do you work with such a team? Scrum is a method that helps answer this question. You can’t expect a dynamic team to gel together right off the bat. But if you get great professionals together and have them work in a unified, comprehensible way toward a shared goal, you will see the kind of unity you need developing.
Bruce Tuckman is the creator of the theory of the ‘Stages of Group Development’. His research argues for five stages of organizational development. You don’t need to read his full body of research, as you can glean the key insights in the summary below:
Table of Contents
Step 1 – Forming
First, it is necessary for you to assemble a dream team to get the best results. Assembling a team may look like an impossible task but it can happen if you put in your best efforts. A team of people who haven’t worked together before tend to rely on formulated interactions and tasks with lots of structure. Scrum, which is an application of Agile development methodology, provides a framework that helps people feel more comfortable.
As part of a new project, group members tend to depend a lot on the leader. They need him or her to set the course. When performing complex work like coding, it’s hard to see the forest for the trees, especially in the early stages, and team members need to know that their work is going toward the end goal. Scrum provides the outline for how to do that by offering predictable workflows.
Part of this structure includes predictable daily routines with all meetings pre-scheduled (including an end time). No surprise meetings or unexpected delays mean team members can keep their eyes on the task at hand. The work is then organized into sprints, which typically have a duration of between one and four weeks. Each sprint provides individual developers with key tasks that must be completed within the allotted time frame, keeping the team focused and the workload predictable.
Scrum Master and Product Owner
There are two key members on the team, whom we refer to as the Scrum Master and the Product Owner. They need to answer all the queries that arise in the group. The scrum master responds to questions related to the Scrum process. The product owner’s responsibility is to answer the queries related to the product.
One reason teams get stuck is that because of lack of encouragement in groups that are remote or ones who work part-time. Understandably, it can be a challenge to stay motivated and on-task when you may only talk directly with the other team members a few times a week on a video call. Building more a team culture can help combat this.
Another reason that some teams fail to progress on target is being afraid of confrontation. It is an irritation when team members do not share opinions, and this fact can prevent some people from speaking up. Exchanging ideas is the best way to generate newer ones. When part of a team does not share ideas, they are not contributing to the crucial early stages of development and limiting the resulting product. Cultivating an honest but respectful environment from the top-down is key.
Step 2 & 3 – Storming and Norming
Often the initial phases of developing a product are a challenging time for everyone involved. Some contributors have trouble moving beyond the formation of the team and feeling like an established member. But if they thought that part was hard, they are in for a rude awakening in the next part. Storming is the apt word for this phase.
When storming begins, people are tempted to break off into opposing factions, destroying the group cohesion. It includes the struggle for power. It is dangerous especially for Scrum teams that are self-managed.While the potential conflicts of this structure might seem alarming, it’s important to consider them from the perspective of traditional management. Where in a typical manager-subordinate relationship, animosity can poison the well, with a Scrum team the opposing members still have to find a way to work together because they are all contributing members.
Focusing on the team’s goals is not the only responsibility of the scrum master. He also ensures that emotional issues do not cause any distraction. These kinds of obstacles can cause discomfort for people. They also might not engage in healthy conflict. Without healthy conflict, it is impossible to create a great product.
Roles of a Scrum
To enable it, the Scrum master should work on helping establish confidence, openness, and honesty among the team members. These, of course, require a great deal of trust. The results are undeniable. Google’s research indicates that cooperating, feeling free to share an idea and being an integrated member of a team determine the level of success. The scrum team can utilize all of these elements cooperation, sharing ideas and being an active part of a team is vital.
People do not like to take risks or responsibility when there is a lack of trust in the group. Creating rules and an environment of trust is vital to assist the team. One way to achieve it is by being transparent about the project. Everyone on the team needs to have access to all the content of the project.
When you do this, it is not only easy to give feedback, but it becomes easy for team members to welcome it. Team members can use feedback to see where they are lacking. Many people cannot see where they fail or fall short without proper feedback. Of course, you should take care that people are not hurtful in their comments but are truly trying to offer constructive comments. Transparency can enable trust and unite people to meet the goals of a project.
Scrum masters need to work with people to share with the team about their goals, plans, and results. Having predictable routines and showing reliability can help in creating a healthy workspace. When trust forms in the team, team communication becomes a lot better. Scrum advocates lead teams to have efficient communication and interactions. At the end of the norming stage, you will observe significant changes in the group. Trust, healthy conflicts, standard rules, and commitments start to appear in the group.
Step 4&5 – Performing and Adjourning.
Reaching this stage is not as simple as the previous stages because it requires the cooperation of the entire team. Everyone in the group needs to have a continuous motivation and should not get discouraged. To achieve this, one has to put in a lot of effort. There should be continual evaluation and reconsideration of processes.
You don’t want to be caught chasing yesterday’s trends. Technology moves at a swift pace of innovation, and products that were novel in the recent past are quickly outdated and abandoned in favor of better technologies. Your team is the secret sauce to get your product to the forefront of tech development. Throughout the process, you are relying on the varied perspectives and inputs of your team members to create a truly successful product.
Once you make an excellent team, you need to work on preserving it instead of changing it. Scrum practitioners are well aware of this fact. Even though it is counter-intuitive, the longevity of the team depends on your ability to keep each individual team member on board and fully committed to the goals of the project. This is essential in Scrum and getting projects done quickly and efficiently. To build a dream team, you need honest people who are committed. Most importantly the environment needs to be predictable, and the organization needs to support it.