Teamwork Is Hard; Agile or Not

Teamwork is hard. To be good at any agile discipline from Scrum to XP to TDD to Kanban, etc., you need teamwork and lots of it.

Many people think that if they are communicating, they are working as a team. Yet communicating is only the first step toward building a team. You can be a great communicator but a terrible team member.

Teamwork takes more…a lot more. You’ll need to:

  • Connect – top performing teams get along. They work and play together. Sure, they disagree and argue but they also have fun.
  • Cooperate – good team members help each other out. They pitch in as needed and do whatever is required to get the job done.
  • Coordinate – just like top athletes, top teams are coordinated. They are able to synchronize activities and balance workloads.
  • Collaborate – the best teams share everything and operate seamlessly. They are able to share knowledge not just information and use it to generate new ideas.

If this sounds like it is hard to do, it is. Teams need constant encouragement and rewards. They need to know that they have autonomy and flexibility. Perhaps most important, each team member must recognize that his or her success is dependent upon the success of the team.

Managers, Product Owners and Scrum Masters are all accountable for teamwork and team productivity. No one I know ever said that being agile is easy. It’s not.

Brainstorm with the team both collectively and individually. Find out what is important to them and how they like to work. Do everything you can to create a safe, comfortable and fun work environment. You may be amazed at the resulting productivity improvement.

Note: If you want to read more about collaboration and software tools that can help, check out Failure to Collaborate Can Trigger Team Turmoil.

Updated: February 16, 2011 — 9:56 pm