The Elements of Improvement

Improvement requires three factors: Information. People need information about the context and how their work fits into the big picture. They need information from the work so they can self-correct. Without this information, systematic improvement is impossible. A desire to improve. Most people want to do their best and learn to do better–until that impulse…

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What do middle managers do?

Last week, someone tweeted that the C-suite “gets agile,” but middle managers “resist” it. I also saw a tweet that the C-suite doesn’t get agile, but middle management does. I don’t doubt the observations of either of these tweeters. I have observed situations where both senior and middle managers saw the value in moving towards…

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Hiring is a Team Activity

In an earlier article, I said, “Hiring new people for a team should always be a joint decision that involves team members.” After all, who has more at stake than the people who will work with the new person day in and day out? Consider what happened when a well-intentioned manager decided to hire without…

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The Costs of a Struggling Team

Last week, I posted a mind map that shows the benefits of the team effect.  But what about the costs of a team that is not doing well?  A team that isn’t working well doesn’t have a neutral effect. A struggling team costs the people and the organization in engagement, quality, and money.

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The Team Effect

A while back, I posted a little mind map about business costs of a struggling team.  But what about the benefits of the team effect?  What does a business gain when teams thrive?

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But are they working hard?

Recently, I met with a group of managers who work in an organization moving towards agile methods. People seem to be happy working on cross-functional teams. They solve problems and work things out without management intervention. Best of all, they produce working software that the customers like. This makes the managers happy. But the managers…

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ScrumMaster? Coach? Agile Coach? The needs of the team and work define the role.

No matter the name, the  intention of the role is to help teams learn new skills, continuously improve, and make the transition to a new way of working. Some people say it’s a technical role, others claim that the role is primarily facilitation. I say, there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to hiring an…

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Agile Teams at Scale: Beyond Scrum of Scrums

Agile methods depend on effective cross-functional teams. We’ve heard many Agile success stories…at the team level. But what happens when a product can’t be delivered by one team?  What do you do when the “team” that’s needed to work on a particular product is 20 people?  Or 20 teams? There are no simple answers. But…

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Hiring for an Agile Team: 4 Reasons to Up Your Hiring Game

Most companies have policies that govern the selection and hiring process for new employees. Not a bad thing.  But I’ve noticed that in many of the companies I visit–especially the big ones–the guidelines put far less rigor around hiring people for dev teams than for management roles. (Occasionally, I see the opposite. Might write about…

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Building Effective Teams: Miss the Start, Miss the End

(This article originally appeared on Gantthead.com) “The beginning is the most important part of the work.” Plato, Greek philosopher and writer, 429–347 B.C.E. I’ve written several articles about a manager’s relationship with a team that has already formed. A manager’s relationship with a team as they work is essential for cultivating a self-organizing team and…

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