Wednesday, December 5, 2012
Shaken, not Stirred
Scrum is a simple way to get your team to work in a more effective way with one another. But what if – your “team” has not worked as a team before? What if you are working with a set of very talented individuals who have come to work together and achieved many goals – independently – over a period of time?
One result of an Agile implementation is that issues that have simmered for a long time in an organization tend to surface up relatively fast. One of the more common issues is the environment working against teamwork and favoring an individual effort approach. There are many forms of this, one of the most common and formal is the “hero based” organization. But that is for a different blog post. For now, I want to ask the TOUGH question – what if you find yourself in the position of having to get your people organized into a team for the first time?
Some people naturally like to work together. Some people normally like to be left alone. In Scrum, we will have BOTH of these people in a group, and we definitely want them to find their way in interactions and in developing their own goals and achieving them together. But in some cases…
In some cases, you will have a group of people that for whatever reason will not work together. Like Oil and Vinegar, they just will not mix. What can an organization do in order to get this type of group to collaborate?
There are many motivators for people to come together, and many reasons for them to fall apart. There are emotional issues, personal histories and interactions, preferences prejudices etc. One experience I had with a “team” that was under the pressure of working with a member not one other person would work with – that had a TTM initiative to meet. As can be expected, the initial set up went well – with everyone wanting to give Scrum a chance – again. Everyone WANTED to work together. But as soon as we started, it became clear WHY the people in the team did not like this one team member. She was a Process “guru” – and continually reminded the team of how they were “doing it wrong”. The personality was abrasive, negative and placed in such a way that results were impeded. Interestingly, when the team realized they had a crisis – they “magically” came together and were able to deliver functionality relatively well. As soon as the “goal” was met, the people immediately resumed the mistrust and hurt that had been “put off” while the crisis was mitigated.
If you have had lunch at almost any Italian restaurant, you will see that in every place you have a bottle with an odd team – it has oil, vinegar and usually some form of spices. You can see it because – well, because it does not mix. It stands out – and when you get your salad, you shake the container, the spices help in – for a moment – getting the ingredients to work together, and you have a vinaigrette dressing on your salad that makes your meal delicious. As soon as you stop shaking, the bottle goes to its steady state – and now you are eating delicious salad and have something interesting to look at.
Please, don’t shake your team!! But, in the above case, the crisis provided an initial reason for the team members to come together. They met their goal, and as soon as it was over – the fell apart. Many organizations have “teams” that follow this pattern. It is evident that they are not a “team” in the full sense of the word. And for Scrum to work, you NEED to not only have a team, but an environment that is favorable to team formation, support and nourishment. If not, you will fall somewhere short of the full benefits that you could experience. So – how do you identify this and even more challenging, how do you deal with it?
At AI, we want to help you transform the way you do business. We want to help you get to that collaborative workspace, so that your company can not only meet its initial goals, but also be able to innovate and thrive in its market segment. To do this, it is imperative to set up environments that allow this to happen. We have the leadership and experience to help you achieve these results. There are hard decisions to be made day to day in business – knowing how to address challenges and why a direction should be chosen can make all the difference between success and merely getting by. Let us partner together with you to help you get to the next level!