With so many organizations today either dipping their toes into Agile or working on a full-fledged Agile transformation, it’s important to remember that Agile is so much more than just a buzzword or a trendy concept—it’s a methodology that drives real results. Zippia reported the following statistics that show just how impactful Agile can be for an organization:
- There is a 64% success rate for Agile projects.
- Compared to waterfall projects, Agile projects are nearly 1.5x more successful.
- Companies who have adopted Agile have experienced an average 60% growth in revenue and profit.
Behind these impressive numbers are the people driving these results—the actual Agile teams. Above all else, an Agile team is meant to be continuously self-improving and adapting to the needs of their project. In order to reach this benchmark (and ultimately bring about the successful results so many organizations are seeing with Agile) here are four of the top traits Agile teams must have:
Feedback is a critical element of an Agile team.
Throughout the lifespan of a project, an Agile team is getting feedback from lots of sources: from stakeholders regarding the progress of the team, from coworkers outside the team about the quality of work, from customers on the value they’re producing, from data that tells the team how well they’re doing, and even from each other through a mutual exchange of ideas and experience.
And while these avenues of feedback are inherent in an Agile framework, the Agile team shouldn’t simply be accepting of the feedback, but actively seeking new ways to receive it. By welcoming feedback, Agile teams are able to identify problems as they come up, understand changing needs of the project, and elicit comments or issues a stakeholder might have along the way. It allows them to make improvements as they go, which is the foremost benefit of adopting an incremental, iterative framework.
A Culture of Psychological Safety
Given the importance of feedback from within the group, an Agile team must work in an environment where everyone feels they can share their thoughts and opinions without being punished for doing so—i.e., they must work in a culture of psychological safety.
Psychological safety paves the way for a free exchange of ideas between all team members. More senior members of the team can share their expertise with more junior members and pass along their experience, while more junior team members can feel comfortable asking questions and bringing new ideas to the table. This also allows everyone to feel empowered about speaking up if something isn’t working properly or there’s a better way to do something. With this guilt- and shame-free collaboration style, the entire group benefits by learning from each other and performing at their highest level.
Simplicity Through Cadence
Projects that Agile teams tackle are complex, but that doesn’t mean the workflow has to be complex. This complexity is often managed by creating simplicity through cadence.
To illustrate the importance of cadence, let’s look at an example of an Agile team that operates without cadence: The team wants feedback from customers on the work they’re producing. They hold a review meeting with customers the first day of the month. They take feedback and do some work. After a few weeks, someone notices they haven’t had a review meeting in a while, and then the whole team realizes it’s been weeks since the last one. In this next review session, six weeks of work has piled up and most of it was done with only the guidance from six weeks before. The review session now lasts twice as long as it should and the amount of backtracking for the Agile team is substantial.
Instead, with a cadenced approach, Agile teams hold their daily stand-ups and review meetings at the same place and time, and for the same length of time, without changing. This establishes a rhythm for the project and ensures very little backtracking on work.
Cadence creates simplicity.
If an Agile team has the mission to continuously be improving, then the team will need control over all their work to improve their product. They will need to be cross-functional.
A team that is not cross-functional cannot complete and support a project fully. Instead, they will be one of many functional teams that is responsible for a step in someone else’s work. This removes control over the process from the Agile team, meaning it’s less likely that they will be able to drive improvements as the project moves forward. They may be able to change components of the process with the intent of improvement, but often these changes will disrupt and not integrate with the needs of other steps in the process.
Having a cross-functional Agile team helps break dependencies in the organization and allows the team to own the entire project, working at maximum effectiveness. This also creates a strong sense of ownership for the Agile team, leading them to be more committed and focused on self-improvement.
Building Agile teams that are feedback-driven, operating in psychological safety, well-cadenced, and cross-functional does not happen overnight. Successful Agile adoptions take time, and building upon these pillars—like everything else in Agile—is something that should always be adapting and improving based on current needs.
If you’re looking for a path to Agile and the successes that come with it, reach out to Evergreen’s Agile experts via the form below. We can’t wait to grow forward with you.