Saturday, August 19, 2017

Disrupting the team when they reached the rhythm — Recognizing the situation to avoid it

Let’s say your company is on a journey to implement a well oiled SAFe (Scaled Agile Framework). You have the domain teams organized and each team has a manager, tech lead, a scrum-master and other technical members.
It is normal go through the initial phase of getting to know each other, how each “agile” ceremony is performed and how all your user stories tie into the bigger epic stories that spawn across multiple domain teams.
After some number of sprints, you will reach that rhythm where your domain team is very smooth in story grooming, identifying cross-team dependencies, sprint planning, developing the code and being consistent with completing the committed stories.
When the teams reach this rhythm, that’s when you should let teams enjoy the momentum and ride it as long as they can. The last thing that should be done at this time would be the introduction of any changes to how the team operates within the agile methodology. These changes could be: another way of measuring results, how you write user stories, what type of user stories are allowed, … etc.
Firstas managers, you have to be involved enough in daily activities to sense when the team reaches the peak rhythm. Then you also have to understand that introducing changes is not going to benefit the team and in fact it will do the opposite and disrupt the team. Maybe you want to change things around to better measure different dimensions within the agile methodology, but there is time where managers need to put their goals on hold for team’s sake.
The intention of these disruptions could be very valid, but if its timing is not appropriate, then you are left with negative impact on the teams and bad energy on the floor. Another important thing to point out is that not allteams reach this peak rhythm at the same time, and not all teams operate the same way; therefore, as leaders on the floor, you need to apply situational leadership skills. This is where the voice of lead engineers (tech leads) needs to be heard by their managers as they are the closest to activities on the floor. If managers are being pressured by senior leadership from the top, some negotiations need to take place in the interest of teams riding the wave of this rhythm for as long as possible.
At the end of the day, we all have good intentions, but we all have to improve in recognizing these type of situations promptly to avoid untimely disruptions.
Thank you for reading. Please follow me here or or on Twitter: @AlmirMustafic 
Almir Mustafic

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