Help Propel Your Product Team to Long-term Success
By Annalinde Singh – A member of the Agile team, IQbusiness
On more than a few occasions, I’ve been involved in facilitating team liftoff sessions for software development teams where the teams had good energy, there was a great positive vibe in the room, agreements were reached, discussions were co-operative in nature, and stakeholders were quick to get on board…
Sadly, and without clear reason, nine times out of ten, I’ve watched this magical momentum slow to a halt a day or two later.
Over time, it got me questioning what may be required at a deeper level from the organisation’s side before a team can start collaborating successfully with the aim of delivering an awesome, valuable product into the hands of eager users.
Through these observations, it became more and more striking to me that these five aspects are often missing from the foundation supporting a product delivery team:
Project sponsor with some related technical background
It seems to be quite easy, especially in larger organisations, for the focus to remain primarily on time and cost, possibly drawing the emphasis away from effective work methods and quality software delivery (and by implication, delighting customers!). It is imperative that the Project Sponsor have a strong enough technical background to balance these potentially conflicting interests and navigate towards the best possible overall outcome.
Team members with permission to focus solely on the product
The negative effect of context switching should no longer be news. Each time that a person is expected to change topic / context, it takes a significant amount of time for true focus to be regained. It is to the benefit of each area if we allow people to focus on one specific product or project without constant distractions splitting their attention. Additionally, it has been scientifically proven that multi-tasking is a myth, and simply ends up in many unfinished items being energetically juggled, rather than the more effective approach of tackling one item at a time, until it is finished. “Stop starting and start finishing.”
Team members are involved in discussions early on, around details like team location, delivery framework to be used etc.
I cannot overemphasise that the buy-in of team members is absolutely crucial. Often decisions are made a few layers of management further up the chain of command, and these decisions impact the daily lives of our software development team members. It would result in a much higher rate of acceptance of change if the relevant team members were involved in decisions from the get-go, including how things are going to get done. (e.g. Scrum versus Kanban, co-location etc.) By the time the team charter (working agreement) is created during team liftoff, agreeing on the concepts would be a mere formality.
The product’s functionality is independent (not reliant on another incomplete release)
This cart-before-horse situation is unfortunately all-too-common, and one has to wonder why we let it happen when it strains against all suggestion of logical behaviour. The chances of an as-of-yet incomplete release impacting everything down the line are incredibly high, especially if problems are experienced at or after go-live. The traditional waterfall way in which many organisations still manage their deployment cycles makes it almost impossible to eliminate interdependencies, limit the influence of outside factors, and move towards being more responsive to a constantly-changing environment.
Well-established backbone support team spanning all involved areas
In the larger companies, this is a brilliant idea which can help teams cope with all the change around them. With full-time access to an internal group who have already gone through the process, many people would be much more willing to head out on an adventure into the unknown.
An aeroplane may be operated by a crew of highly skilled people, but they will only be able to take off if the appropriate runway has been prepared for them.
Need some help setting your organisation or team up for success?
We can help clear the way and liftoff your team.