10 April 2017

Voluntary Egalitarian Collectivism

What does an ideal agile team behave like? 

I have a theory. It starts with Voluntary. If there are people on a team that aren't personally invested in being there, they aren't volunteers. They are there for some other reason that isn't directly part of 'winning'. I define winning as delivering rock solid code, features, and applications on time and within the budget. (just like everyone else?) People who haven't volunteered to take up the project and drive it home aren't really invested and therefore don't bring their best game. 

I've talked a little elsewhere about your commitment to a team or project as a professional consultant, and that comes with some baggage of its own, and I'll admit that commitment can be faked, but if the team isn't engaged for the win, then you won't get optimal performance out of them.

Second, I think it is important to treat each person with equal respect. Everyone on the team should be assumed to be doing there very best and acting in the best interest of the team and project. Of course you must handle situations where that isn't true; by removing those players, but you have to at least start with the premise that everyone involved wants to succeed. 

Lastly is collectivism. Now I'm not typically a collectivist, but if you will apply your suspension of disbelief for a moment, everyone on the team must subjugate themselves to the objective of the project. I'm not talking about some sort of blind enslavement (see Voluntary), but everyone must work to deliver the project at the possible expense of other things. At least for 8 hours a day. 

I lost track of this mantra for a little while, and let me tell you things didn't go as planned. However, when I've applied this thinking to what I'm working on, things have always gone well. So, I encourage you to change your thinking about teams, projects, and companies for that matter and consider this mindset.