Four advantages of agile teams

Scaling, Culture and Agile Evolution – Part 1

Why is scaling so hard? And further elaborating: why is it so hard to implement a good agile implementation in the first place? One should take a more thorough look at what the results look like in a good, small agile team and deduce what scaling, implementation in a real organization and sustainable implementation would have to look like. Then it suddenly makes much more sense why everyone is now talking about agile management – and others think that agile is only of interest to “those down there” in IT.

The four advantages of agile teams

Small stable teams have produced amazing results. They cracked the code on how to develop software effectively, reliably, and creatively, and it’s worth taking a closer look at how that’s achieved: after all, you want to take those benefits to larger-scale environments and other areas. Ideally, the entire company should benefit – but before that, you need to understand how these benefits came about.

1. accelerated learning

Learning in teams is grossly underestimated in its importance: teams and each of their members learn continuously in the course of a development process: new techniques, interrelationships with other components, effects of frameworks and requirements – once you start looking more closely, the list becomes endless.

After a short time, the intensity with which learning takes place helps determine the speed of a team’s development.

Agile teams have engineered this insight in: Learning works most effectively in teams.

2. predictable development

With agile software techniques, an important requirement for software development as a whole has been met: a reliable statement about the development status. The main technique for this is again test automation, test-driven development and development in small vertical slices. This approach also covers deficiencies, ambiguities and contradictions in the specifications.

3. rapid feedback and resilient progress reports

Closely related to this is the ability to show results at short intervals. This cured another widespread “disease” in development: the long time until the first results are shown and the compulsion to specify many details extremely early.

4. more fun and motivation in development

They still exist, the doubters, but the burden of proof is overwhelming: in knowledge work, one of the decisive productivity factors is the inner motivation of the actors themselves. While one can replace motivation in simple activities with control, pressure and direct incentives, this is no longer effective for all activities that are even rudimentarily creative. Agile teams can change this permanently – many have already experienced how productive working in a sworn team can be, and how intensely we perceive and remember the euphoria.

Part 1: Four advantages of agile teams

Part 2: Accelerated learning is team learning

Part 3: Limits of agility in a team

On Key

The VSM Quick Guide: the model

The introduction to the series on Jon Walker’s VSM quick guide. It describes the simplified VSM vocabulary as used in the rest of the steps.