Dispersed Team – Boon or a Bane – The How’s of the world?

A team that has members across different locations, time zones, geographies is typically a dispersed team. The members of dispersed team come from different cultures and can bring with them radically different approaches, perspectives and challenges.

Dispersed team brings together of the phenomena of human- technology interactions, team work, communications among people separated by time, culture and distance. Such elements give rise to challenging the current methods of effective team management, product and project management and inter-personal relationships among the team members

Since last decade the concept of dispersed teams have gained a lot of prominence in the IT industry and now-a-days, it a basic norm to have teams spread across locations and time-zones.

Is there an ROI on having a dispersed team? What are the management cost overheads? Is there a cost-benefit analysis performed before the decision of dispersed team creation is taken? Not sure if the current set of management folks in IT industry are taking this into account. The worst case scenario, we find these days, the Agile teams (which were supposed to be in a single location, co-located) are also getting into the dispersed mode, negating all the values and benefits of adopting agile in the system, we have started performing Waterfall approach in the disguise of Agile / Scrum (rather creating a concept of ScrumFall)

The way organizations conduct business is changing, the landscape of doing business is changing, the world is moving away from regional to global elements. Information is the new currency is the current fast paced world that we operate in. The way technology is moving, it is making the leadership take note and move from relocation to dispersed teams

Again accepting the business realities and the way IT industry is currently operating, May I take the liberty to present a few ideas and thoughts on how to create & manage a product / project using a dispersed team.

How Part of the system?

Before launching the dispersed team, it is important for the organization to gauge its own readiness and the team’s readiness to operate in a dispersed mode. Is the organization ready to support it or its merely a current need so we need to do it.

To succeed, a dispersed team needs thorough planning and adequate support in terms of logistics, budgets, infrastructure, facilities, HW and SW. It should have a defined purpose, a vision, clear and measurable goals and objectives. Roles and authority must be defined carefully, too much of centralized decision making would kill the team, where complete de-centralization of authority would create a wrong environment to deal with (future). The team must have right people with the right size.

If we determine that our organization is ready to launch the dispersed team, the next step is to carefully plan its first meeting, a minimum requirement should be face to face interaction and meeting (which a lot of organization feel is a non-value added costly affair, I always recommend the management the evaluate the cost of doing this activity vs. cost of not doing (see the data and impact in the long run), whichever comes to be cheaper, let’s do that approach) giving an opportunity to the team members to meet each other, develop personal rapport and create a shared understanding of elements, this adequately set the stage of better collaboration & coordination finally help build the TRUST factor (which so much missing in the current way of our working).

When creating / launching a dispersed team, care should be taken to at an individual and team level for how they combine to form a team, see value of certain attributes such as: competence, desire to work in a team, skills sets, working environment and more importantly culture.

I recommend doing a DISC profiling of individual for critical high visibility project, where it can make or break the organization or move the organization in the next sphere of doing business

Once the dispersed team is launched, to make it a success, a few elements would be required to be in place. Three attributed would be required (consider them as pre-requisite): Communication and Information Sharing, decision making and conflict management.

Since good communication is so important to success of the dispersed team, that each team member should understand the capabilities of the various tools and technologies used. Facilitating effective decision making is an equal amount of challenge and leadership should define what decisions can be done and taken at the local level and what would require centralized decision making (Economy of scale is an important consideration in this front). Team must also formalize how decisions would be made, how are we going to internally communicate, how the external world would be engaged, what is method of engagement along with frequency. And finally, since dispersed teams would invariably experience some inter-personal issues and conflict, an agreeable conflict management approach should be adopted (not trying to generalize the idea), the Leader should guide the team in planning a process to manage conflicts as and when they occur and reaching a solution for the same.

Dispersed teams require more direct and careful maintenance than the local teams to reach their full potential. Such teams can be a source of rich innovation than the local teams. A larger and wider perspective helps the team solve the problem much more quickly. Insights from colleagues around the globe bring new dimensions to the work, Members can draw on cultural differences to access and understand different viewpoints and opinions of others.

Project management is also a difficult challenge for leadership of the dispersed team. As the distance grows between the teams it becomes much more difficult to schedule joint meetings and discussions, this element can be mitigated by providing adequate infrastructure and support to the teams.

Take time-zones into account when scheduling a meeting, one location is always going to be at a receiving end of the system, better approach and plan would be to rotate this concept where is the pain of sitting late in offices or coming early is shared across locations, let not one team feel victimized. We need to be honest to ourselves. How many times have our clients sat late in their own offices across the Atlantic or have reached early to have that required meeting or to clarify a few things, from a outsourcing standpoint, the vendor is always the one to take the pain. We have all forgotten a basic principle that projects are successful when customer and the supplier side of the business both collaborate and work towards the achieving the desired vision.

Usage of common tools, having common vocabulary is a minimum requirement, where possible and when possible invest in WebEx / online video meetings (audio based meetings is a thing of past), beware of not investing in the necessary item, could have a larger impact in the system, one should always take decisions in terms of understanding the un-intended consequences (short term) and the intended consequences (long term). Choose simple tools and technology, do remember the purpose of tools and technology is to assist the human’s and not to dominate them. Define a process and the identify a tool, rather than invest in a tool and then because we have purchased it, one would go ahead and define a process to meet the needs of the tool.

Final a few words of wisdom: Dispersed teams would present unique challenges. Organizations need to prepare for and support them properly to realize their full potential.

In the next series of my blogs, would present checklist that can be used as a ready reckoner to launch and support dispersed teams.

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Leadership Learning: Return on Experience

Off late, I am fascinated, with the idea of writing a Job Description for a CEO in an agile organization. What is expected from a CEO of an Agile adopting organization? This led me to think on what can CEO do differently using his / her experience, How can experience be better channelized. Can it help him and the company grow?

A central question that has captured the minds of all researches and educators over the world: What are the processes by which the senior leadership or executives learn, grow and develop themselves of the course of their careers

This blog attempts to provide a guide or some ideas for a framework to understand how Leadership is developed through experience and suggest how leaders can assess and enhance work experience for the future development.

Nothing teaches Leadership like experience, but the benefits of on the job learning are not guaranteed. To maximum the learning and development potential that lies within the work experience, one would need a good plan. One always needs to understand what is one getting out of the experience, what is missing and then how to fill those gaps.

May I introduce a new concept of Return-On-Experience framework. Using the ROE framework, one would actively seek to learn from experience to develop Mastery, Versatility, and Impact. When you apply ROE approach in your work and organization everyday experiences can be transformed into an engine for Leadership development and Organizational impact.

Part of the ROE is a concept of “BUILD, BROADEN, BENEFIT”.

One can create a new learning habit that uses experience to build, broaden and benefit.

Build an Experience based learning can enhance mastery. The development goals to increase your capability by sharpening your existing skills and ability to lead.

Broaden an Experience based learning can enhance versatility. The development goals to increase your repertoire of skills and abilities.

Benefit an Experience based learning can enhance impact. The true measure of learning is your ability to apply it. To have value, learning must be transferable to different situation and to other people.

The build-broaden-benefit concept would allow to view the work through new lens. Often career and development strategies focus on either a higher level of experience or cross-functional learning. ROE concepts connect the two of them. Mastery prepares the leadership for existing and identified challenges. Versatility helps the leadership develop for new and potential unknown challenges – Situation which may be different from ones they have already experienced.

The combination of Mastery and Versatility produces “T-shaped Leader” – someone who possesses high capabilities in a core function /area with board capacities in diverse areas.

When going through an experience, one should always ask these questions:

  • What skills am I building?
  • How can I broaden my perspective or extend by capability?
  • How can my experience and my increased Mastery and Versatility benefit my organization or the project?

If your experiences fall short on developing Mastery, Versatility or impact, the message is clear: It is time to change.

Needs of the Organization

Align your learning experiences with the needs of the organization. What are the strategic challenges and priorities the organization faces? What Leadership skills does it need to meet those challenges?

When your development experiences are aligned to the priorities of the organization, the skills that you develop from the experience go towards building leadership mastery in the ways that have direct relevance to your career and benefits to the organization in the long term.

Your Own Needs

Match development experiences to your needs. Customize your learning agenda based on your own strengths and development needs. An experience that may be developmental for you may not be useful or have the same effect on others. The process of developing Mastery differs by individuals and the context of their work.

Strategies for Building Mastery

  • Strategic assignments
  • Job rotations
  • Action learning projects

Strategies for Building Versatility

  • Go vertical
  • Reach across
  • Engage with outsiders
  • Cross geographic boundaries
  • Discover new demographics
  • Seek cross-cultural experiences
  • Cultivate diverse relationships

Benefit: Enhance your Impact

The true measure of learning is your ability to apply it. To value, learning must be transferable to different situations and to other people. Experience based learning can enhance impact. The transfer of learning from experience involves a manager’s application of the lessons learned and transmission of new knowledge to other people in the organization.

At individual level, the lessons learnt are transferred to the context of other work required of the manager. This happens when the leader can apply the lessons learned from an experience to a variety of contexts from one role to another, or to other project, or to new department / function. Impact is enhanced when learner abstracts the leadership principle underlying the knowledge being learned

At the group level, the lessons learnt from experience can be transferred to others through conversations in which a group reflects collectively on an experience or when individual shares the lessons learned from experience with group members. By sharing and practicing new behaviors and skills, managers can transfer the learning they have acquired from experience to other members of the group

At organizational level, the transfer of learnings from experience occurs when learning is codified and used to transform general practice. While difficult to achieve, this is the most powerful benefit of experiential learnings. As leaders transfer their learnings across the organization, they create shortcuts for other leaders to learn the same skills

Create your ROE

  • How do you make your learnings visible?
  • How do you recognize it for yourself?
  • How do you evaluate learning to a relevant discussion with others?
  • How do you use lessons learned from experience as a point of differentiation between yourself and others

Common mistakes that Scrum Masters make when giving feedback to Scrum Team Members

How many of us give good and consistent feedback to the people / teams that we work with? There would a handful a people who put their hands up for the question above. Why so few? The reasons are varied: It is hard to do; I am afraid I will say something I will regret; People get emotional when they hear things they do not like; It will mess up with my relationships. All of these concerns are valid; but the all stem from the common mistakes that people make when giving feedback:

The feedback judge’s individuals, not actions.

This is the number one mistake people make in giving feedback is putting it in judgmental terms. If the Scrum Master says to someone “You were to abrasive” or “You need to a better tea, player”. This is judgmental feedback, by the time these words are received by the feedback recipient, He is already thinking “Who do you think you are calling me abrasive”. The energy spent in defending themselves from your attach defeats any chance of having a meaningful conversation

The Feedback is exaggerated with generalities

Another key mistake is using language like “always” or “never”. Hearing these words people naturally get defensive as they can remember plenty of times when they did not do what you claim they did.

The Feedback contains implied threat

Telling someone her job is in jeopardy (“Do you want to be successful in the organization or the team?”) does not reinforce good behavior or illustrate bad behavior. It only creates animosity

The Feedback uses inappropriate humor

If giving feedback is uncomfortable to you, or if you sometimes speak before thinking, you might use sarcasm as a substitute for feedback, But saying “Good Afternoon” to a colleague who is ten minutes late for a morning meeting doesn’t tell that person how that behavior affected you or provide reasons to change that behavior

The Feedback is question, not a statement

Phrasing feedback as a question (“Do you think you can pay closer attention during our next meeting?”) is too indirect to be effective. It may be also be a interpreted as sarcastic, or rhetorical, to which the recipient may respond with indifference

One can avoid common feedback mistakes by learning how to communicate important information about the performance to colleagues, peers or superiors in a way what you are saying and helps them identify ways in which they can improve. During the course, of giving feedback to various people and system, have developed a new technique called as “SBI – Situation Behavior Impact”.

Using this concept of giving the feedback, the recipient can more easily see that action he or she can take to continue and improve performance or to change behavior that is ineffective or even an obstacle to performance.

SBI technique is effective because it is simple and one while giving feedback, they describe the behavior you observed and explain the impact that the behavior had on the system or the team or the project.

Be Simple, Direct and Effective – Learn these 3 step and practice them regularly.

Remember capturing the situation is only the start of the feedback session. Here are some examples to start with:

  • “Yesterday during the Daily Scrum, while the team was discussing the status of XYZ user story ….”
  • During the Retrospective, while the team was speaking on a ABC issue ….”
  • This past Friday during the Release celebration cocktail party ….”

Specificity is important when recalling the situation. The more specifics and details you can use in bringing the situation to mind, the clearer you message would be.

Describing the behavior is next step to providing effective feedback. It’s also the most critical step and is often omitted, It is also the most difficult one to describe. The most common mistake is giving the feedback happens when judgments are communicated using adjectives that describe a person and the person’s action.

Consider the phrases below:

  • You were rude during the meeting
  • She seemed to be bored at the sprint review
  • He seemed pleased with the report as presented to management

These phrases describe an observer’s impression or interpretation of a behavior. Now let’s have a look at some other list of actions as observer might witness that would lead to those impressions and interpretations:

  • He spoke at the same time another person was speaking (Rude)
  • She yawned, rolled her eyes and looked out the window (Bored)
  • He smiled and nodded his head (Pleased)

The list of phrases as given above actual describe a person’s action. The focus is on the actual behavior not on a judgement as to what the behavior might mean. By focusing on the action, not the impression, Scrum Master can communicate clear facts that person can understand and act upon.

So when giving feedback using SBI, it is not only important to capture what is said or done but how it is said and done. You can capture the how by paying attention to three things: Body Language, tone of voice and speaking manner and word choice.

Body language is non-verbal communication can include facial expression, eye movement, body posture and hand gestures.

The final step in giving feedback is to relay the impact that the other person’s behavior had on the team, project or anything else.

By communicating the impact a behavior has had on the you (personally) or on the team or the project, you are sharing a point of view from your perspective. This would help build trust, which in turn can lead to even more effective communication.

To develop your effectiveness in carrying out the impact stage of giving feedback, practice putting your feedback in form of “When you did (behavior), I felt (Impact)” or “When you said (behavior), I was (impacted)”.

Putting it all together

Review the situation, behavior and impact steps that build effective feedback and practice those steps at every opportunity. Take time to reflect on your feedback efforts. Ask yourself “Why did I pay attention to this particular behavior?”, What does this say about me?

Reflection also gives you time to understand the true impact the behavior had on you.

You will in turn will benefit from developing a useful skill that not only helps to raise productivity of all people around you, but also bolsters your personal Leadership skills.

Improving people engagement and Retention – In an Agile World

One factor that impacts our ability as organization / project to have a consistent and predictable velocity is in-stability of our team members, we are in the industry, where employee stability is a major issue. This bring to my mind a bigger question, as to why organizations are not able to retain their best employees. It is important to remember that your best employee is the person who desires to leave, under performers do not leave.

Employee retention refers to the ability of an organization to retain its employees. Employee retention can be represented by a simple statistic (for example, a retention rate of 80% usually indicates that an organization kept 80% of its employees in a given period).

In addition to performing exit interviews to learn why employees are leaving, consider asking longer-tenured employees why they stay. Ask questions such as: Why did you come to work here? Why have you stayed? What would make you leave? And what are your non-negotiable issues? What about your team members, your scrum master? What would you change or improve? Then use that information to strengthen your employee-retention strategies.

Communicate your business’s mission and the current project vision. Feeling connected to the organization’s goals is one way to keep employees mentally and emotionally tied to your company.

In a recent research / survey done, it was identified that …

More than half (59%) of respondents believe that chief executive officers (CEOs) are focused on the numbers, rather than their employees, according to research by Coleman Parkes and the Workforce Institute at Kronos. The ‘The £60bn question report’, interviewed 500 people including business/operations managers, HR professionals, and employees amongst a cross section of UK-based organisations

An organisation that engages its employees will be more successful and profitable than one that does not. Organisations of today need employees who are psychologically connected to their work, especially in an economy of service and information industries

Engagement is not the same as motivation. Engagement is when employees are experiencing job satisfaction from a shared understanding of organisational goals that results in enhanced productivity or service levels. Motivation sits on a solid foundation of engagement. It is about firing up employees to achieve specific goals such as sales targets or meeting the defined and agreed service levels.

Employee engagement is not a tick box exercise. It demands a holistic approach to create the conditions that foster engagement. In some cases, that may mean driving a sea change in corporate culture. In an ideal world employee should be presented with a balance between the demands made of them and the resources they can access to meet those demands. Resources may be physical, such as having a laptop for mobile working, but just as often resources may be social or even emotional, in the form of support from colleagues and management. This type of support may look like a ‘nice to have’ but actually organisations derive much of their performance from it.

Just as importantly, engagement cannot be imposed on employees. There needs to be commitment to employee engagement at a senior level, and organisations need to recognise that Scrum Masters and Product Owners that provide support also need to be supported themselves.

Achieving engagement can have a dramatic motivational effect, resulting in low levels of cynicism and excellent performance. Employees demonstrate the best job performance in challenging, yet resourceful work environments. With engagement, a high workload can in fact be a positive motivator rather than a negative issue.

Low engagement can be seen through factors such as high absenteeism and staff turnover, as well as poor staff satisfaction levels as expressed in anonymous qualitative surveys. A Gallup poll found that engagement levels could be predictors of sickness absence, with more highly engaged employees taking an average of 2.7 days per year off sick, compared with disengaged employees taking an average of 6.2 days per year.

Conduct “stay” interviews. In addition to performing exit interviews to learn why employees are leaving, consider asking longer-tenured employees why they stay. Ask questions such as: Why did you come to work here? Why have you stayed? What would make you leave? And what are your non negotiable issues? What about your managers? What would you change or improve? Then use that information to strengthen your employee-retention strategies.

On a very honest side, I would have to say, that in my large expanded career, not a single organization has ever conducted with me or with others (that I know), a STAY interview, is this unheard of? Is that so difficult? Why do we react and try to retain an employee when they put in their papers, all of a sudden we wake up. Can’t we have a type of alarm done to spot these elements and be pro-active … We have also failed to apply the basic principle.

Risk Mitigation is always cheaper than Issue resolution … or put it in simpler approach. Prevention is better than Cure …

I am not sure if in my life time of career … I would see this change coming in … we are heavily engaged in target meetings …. Without understanding the basics, that it is the people who would help us meet the target.

Uninspired Team – Reasons why your team is not fully engaged

As a scrum master your main role is to ensure that your team stay motivated, productive and more importantly happy. It is also your job responsibility to identify what is causing them to be de-attached with the system, why are they non-responsive, what is causing them to be dis-engaged and uninspired so you can correct the situation

Inspiring teams is not about just keeping your employees happy. It’s about having well-defined roles that allow your people to advance in their jobs as well as make meaningful and useful contribution to the company goals.

Let’s explore a few reasons as to why teams might be feeling uninspired:

 

You Demand Perfection

Perfection seems like a recipe for success. But when good is no longer good enough, your team will have a hard time starting things and an even a harder time finishing them. Great leaders don’t complicate things by obsessing over every last detail. They understand that solution is to simplify things. Allow your team to choose something that they think will work and let them give it a try. If they fail, consider it as a learning experience and move on to the next assignment / project

You are not approachable

Too many times managers lock themselves in their office claiming to be busy the entire time. What they do not understand is that being approachable is essential to building inspired teams. When you’re approachable your team can comfortably discuss the latest happening with you and will not try and cover up problems once they arise. This also allows your team to share new ideas with you and they will be confident that you are open to their suggestions.

You Mirco-Manage your team

If you keep insisting on doing things your way, don’t be surprised when you team stops pushing for a change. A micro-manager is someone who holds back on delegating and focuses on minor details and discourages the team members from taking their own decisions. Micro-Management is now an old style of management and is no longer productive in trying to control all aspects of the team’s work. It hurts the team morale and productivity, and is often ranked as one of the top reasons why employees quit

You Cannot tolerate mistakes

If you want to have a creative, innovative and inspired team, you need to give them the permission to fail. If you respond to mistakes and unsuccessful ideas with disappointment or blame, your team will be de-motivated and dis-couraged. However, when you turn challenges into a learning experience, you build up the confidence of your team. Create a culture of creative confidence, which is the ability to come up with new ideas and trying them out. Change your team’s mindset from being risk-averse to being empowered to seek new ideas, thoughts and endeavours

 You Hired a wrong team  

The success of your company depends on the people you hire, if you team seems to be uninspired for good reason, then there’s something fundamentally wrong with your hiring process. It’s either that your employees are not well informed about what is expected of them or you just don’t know what you want in the hire. Successful recruitment is never an easy task. You need to look for successful patterns that have worked in the past to guide you through. Super performers are out there, but just as in good old days, you may need to do some detective work and to actively seek out the people who will turn your company from good to great

 

Servant leadership is no longer about managing and stepping back, it is all about identifying when to step back and allow the team to take the control of the situation and doing it on their own. It is all about guiding the team to do better, achieve higher altitudes.

Yes, I agree we all are humans and have a legacy approach of command and control, it is difficult to do away on day one, the old thoughts and embrace the new world, but if do not change now, we shall never change, do not expect the team to change, the change has to start from one own-self and that is difficult, but again not impossible …

Parenting and Agile Team – A Case of similarities

There are only three things you need to be a good parent – patience, patience, patience. What about love, affection, attention and other such things, you’d ask. Sure, that’s important as well. But while those things, in most cases, come naturally, patience is something that needs to be cultivated. The lack of patience leads to stress. Stress leads to frustration. Frustration leads to anger. And anger leads to bad parenting.

Now think about this in terms of developing a matured Agile development team and you’ll realise where this column is heading. Parenting and developing a good matured – self-disciplined Agile team are both long-term processes. The immediate effects of any decision that you take are rarely satisfying, but the long-term results can be copacetic if you have the patience. Ironically, you need to be patient to cultivate patience. And that is not easy. The developing teams, much like your children, will behave erratically. They’ll do things that are out of your control. The more you try to be patient with them, teams as well as children, the more they’ll make you lose your patience. It’s a vicious circle.

But there’s no way around it. If you lose your patience, you lose the chance of enjoying the fruits of your efforts. Somewhat similarly, to young one who would behaves like an angel on some days but on other days, they won’t eat her food properly, will throw around their stuff when one has guests over or just be unrelentingly stubborn about something they wants. Such instances are when parents easily lose their patience. But scolding or smacking the kid is hardly the solution. Just the way stopping your teams when the process will fail.

These are decisions that are taken under the influence of impatience. They’re almost guaranteed to fail. I know children aren’t going to become the best-behaved young one in the world if I scold them, but they might listen to me if I calmly keep telling them why they should or shouldn’t do certain things. Whereas Agile teams are expected to have a mind of their own (as they are supposed to be self-disciplined and self-managed), which makes it even more futile to lose your patience with them. Just stick to your approach and plan and you’ll be set to meet your goals and objectives. The agile team’s misbehaviour won’t matter in the long run, but any decision you take after losing your patience will.

But there’s no way around it. If you lose your patience, you lose the chance of enjoying the fruits of your efforts. Somewhat similarly, to young one who would behaves like an angel on some days but  objectives. The agile team’s misbehaviour won’t matter in the long run, but any decision you take after losing your patience will.

The softer side of Agile – Neglected and unnoticed ….

The word agility is on the lips and tips of most business executives throughout the world as they try to increase their employees’ and organizations’ ability to anticipate change and respond efficiently and effectively.

Agile adoption requires all departments and functions to be aligned and think likewise, which includes the HR function.  However, many HR executives are clueless on the intent and the focus of agility in the current HR processes. Creating the Agile Organization turns its focus on agility itself and asks the question. What is the role of HR in the agile adoption in the organization, how and where and what should the HR folks contribute to make the organization Agile.

Well the answer: learning and performance management.

In fact, a major challenge is organizations are trying to move from a historical management approach that is highly structured and perceived as more safe to one that is less structured and perceived as more risky.

There are numerous elements that go into enabling employees and leaders to behave in a more agile fashion—and many of these elements are outside the influence of HR. To that end, HR should first establish a strong collaboration with senior leaders focused on evolving the organization to a more agile model before making changes to processes. Without this agreement, efforts by HR to increase organizational agility are likely to be mostly futile.

Assuming HR has this agreement, the question becomes, “Where should HR focus its efforts?” While many talent processes are important, our research indicates there are two levers of talent management that are at the core of enabling agile behaviours: learning and performance management

Learning enables individuals to anticipate changes as a result of constantly enhancing their understanding of the organization, its markets, and future opportunities and challenges. Further, learning also enables individuals to respond effectively and efficiently to those opportunities and challenges, if that learning can occur in the moment and in response to specific needs.

Traditional performance evaluations, which focus solely on individual performance, create a “chasm of disconnect” for agile team members. Because agile is all about team performance and trust, the typical HR performance evaluation system is not congruent with agile development.

Performance management enables agility by establishing clear goals and reinforcing and rewarding those who respond effectively and efficiently. If performance management does not reinforce the importance of acting with agility but instead emphasizes following the historical plan, then employees will not perform in an agile fashion.

Many companies shifting to Agile. But, most continue to use their existing performance evaluation methods! Agile organization with Traditional measurements will always behave and do the following:

• Rewards the wrong behaviours
• Creates/exacerbates the chasm
• Individual stature
• Promote myself
• Me first, team second
• Me versus everyone else
• Desire to become an SME

We like it or not, most executives love to measure and measure wrong things and have no linkage with the organizational goals and strategies. Most of the measurements in the SW industry has been due to the adoption of models and frameworks like CMMI and ISO’s of the world, which focus on the measurement driven system.

No, No, No, I am not against the measurement, but would have reservations against what is getting measured and why it is getting measured and the usage of these numbers in the system.

Measurements drive behaviour, why team measurement is important, what to measure, and what not to measure. Agile introduces tangible techniques for measuring agile team performance-end of sprint retrospectives, sprint and project burn down charts, peer reviews, and release performance reviews. To demonstrate Agile uses role plays to contrast traditional, dysfunctional annual reviews with agile-focused performance reviews. Take back practical knowledge, based on fundamental agile principles, about how to integrate team measurement techniques into your existing environment-whether the HR department buys in to this practice or not.

As Eliyahu Goldratt mentioned …. “Tell me how you will measure me and I will tell you how I will behave.”

It is human nature for people to modify their behaviours to match the evaluation system.

  • A very important part of any agile rollout is to align the performance evaluation system (and other HR practices) with what Agile emphasizes.
  • Not doing so causes dysfunction that will erode the team’s effectiveness.

As with any new approach, introducing an agile performance evaluation system will have its challenges:

  • Resistance to change
  • Fear – too revealing
  • Deflates the general optimism
  • Loss of control
  • Cheese mover comfort zone, Etc.

Some final thoughts on this front ….

  • It is human nature for people to modify their behaviours to match the evaluation system.
  • A very important part of any agile rollout is to align the performance evaluation system (and other HR practices) with what Agile emphasizes.
  • Not doing so causes dysfunction that will erode the team’s effectiveness.