The importance of a good team

It may seem obvious, but a good team of people is absolutely critical when implementing Scrum. Scrum and the delegated control and decision making that comes with it can be disastrous if you don’t have a team of people that you can trust.

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Agile is based on this word, trust. You will be told, in all of the literature, that trust is crucial and that you must resist the old school management temptation to dominate and dictate. Can you implement Scrum successfully without this trust – the answer, obviously, is no. What if you find trusting difficult?

There could be good reasons for your scepticism. How do you know whether you have a team that you can trust?

Use an agile maturity model to help understand how capable the team is and how much potential there is for improvement. If you don’t see each and every member of your team maturing to the desired end state (presumably zen/guru) then its probably time for them to find another team. The weakest team member will always hold the rest of the team back and prevent your team as a whole from maturing.

Solution?

Evaluate the team and have them self-evaluate using a formal model.

Run small experiments to limit your exposure and validate or invalidate your fears around trust and specific team members. Frankly, if you place your trust in them and it doesn’t work out, then you know what to do…

Of course there will be legitimate limits of your trust as a leader, but you need to be on that boundary and pushing it all the time. There is nothing wrong with that, as long as you have a plan to address the problem; maybe this month you don’t trust Bob with a release, but you can delegate a few smaller tasks and see how he gets on, then try again next month.

As Einstein famously said, insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results – if it’s not working, move on and change your team.

Do not, under any circumstances, try to shelter or insulate an individual for the team. The problem is  not limited to that individual, it will be having an effect (visible or otherwise) on the rest of the team. One de-motivated, non-believer can have a huge negative effect on an otherwise high functioning team.

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