I started this story back in Own Your Leadership, Part 1: Dave and Sherry collaborated to facilitate their team’s ability to deliver one completed feature at a time, to improve the team’s throughput and quality. In Own Your Leadership, Part 2, Sherry realized the team doesn’t have a real PO, and Dave struggled with the team members taking initiative for some changes.
The team continued to run experiments. The experiments aren’t making things worse. However, Dave couldn’t tell if the experiments made anything better.
He agreed to let the experiments run for a week. Three days into the experiment, Jack and Jill realized they wanted to bring other people into their pair–they didn’t have enough depth in certain areas of the code. The tester asked if she could pair with someone to work on automation.
That day, Dave and Sherry were called out to customer meetings, so the team was on its own. Jack asked everyone at the standup, “Are you willing to consider mobbing today?” A couple of people were worried they wouldn’t finish the work they had committed to, but they were willing to try.
The team took over a small conference room and started to mob. At one point, Jill said, “I’m willing to go out and do that piece here.” The team asked her to remain so they could continue to work together. Jill explained how things worked in the code and one of the other developers suggested an alternative way of working. Jill was surprised first, and then realized that way was an improvement over her original ideas.
When they decided it was time for lunch, they had almost completed one story, with the necessary automated unit and system tests. They were thrilled.
Dave and Sherry returned mid-afternoon and discovered the team in the conference room. By now, everyone looked exhausted. They’d finished the first story and were stuck on the second. It didn’t matter what they did, nothing worked.
Dave explained how that part of the code worked and took a short turn at the keyboard. Tim, one of the other developers, interrupted him and said, “Let me see if I can figure this out now that you explained it.” Dave wasn’t so sure that was the best way to proceed, but he figured he could always reclaim the keyboard.
Tim figured out the problem by creating tests first. His tests started off big, but he caught himself and the team coached him to make the tests smaller. By the end of the day, the team was almost done with the second story.
The team finished that story by mobbing the next day. They held a 15-minute retrospective and decided that they wanted to mob more–maybe not for every story, but while they were learning the system, they wanted to work together.
Sherry took the problem of finding a space for the team to mob. Dave wrestled with his feelings of how to be helpful to the team. He spoke with Sherry about it, and she reminded him, “Your job isn’t to do the work for the team. Your job is to help the team do great work. If they don’t ‘need’ you,” (she use air quotes around need), “you’ll get to do other good work.”
This story occurred last year. The team often, but not always, mobs. The team reliably releases a story every day or two. They are happy working as a team, delivering value every day. They use a kanban board to track their work in progress. They still retrospect on a two-week cadence, because they like that. Sometimes, they plan in a workshop and sometimes they plan just in time.
They don’t have a name for their agile approach. They know it works for them.
The team changed how they worked. Sherry and Dave have changed, also. Sherry and Dave are both “team leads.” Sherry facilitates the team’s process and helped hire a real Product Owner for the team.
Dave started helping other teams and management make the cultural shift. He often pairs or mobs with teams so he can show and coach them how to make the most of their agile approach.
Becoming an agile leader isn’t easy. Dave and Sherry found each other as allies. They created allies in the team by looking for short, possible experiments. They served the team by helping the team members learn how to deliver value: finished stories that work. If you would like to learn and practice how to do this in your organization, please join us at the Influential Agile Leader.
There’s still time to sign up for the Influential Agile Leader in Toronto May 9-10, 2017. If you are struggling with your place in your agile transformation or what you could do, please join us.
Please do join me for these workshops starting in early May:
* Build your writing habit with Writing Workshop 1: Write Non-Fiction to Enhance Your Business and Reputation. Starts May 16, 2017.
* Learn to engage with your readers is Writing Workshop 2: Secrets of Successful Non-Fiction Writers. Starts May 16, 2017.
* Become an effective product owner with Practical Product Owner workshop. Starts May 8, 2017.
If you’re not sure about any of them, let’s talk.
Are you new to the Pragmatic Manager newsletter? See previous issues.
If you like the idea of romance between smart technical women and just-as-interesting men, I’m starting to write romance in my spare (!) time. See Johanna’s Fiction.
Till next time,
Tags: agile, flow efficiency, product owner, servant leadership, teams, transition to agile, trust