There are many theories on how we can get a team to become hyper productive. Everyone in the industry is looking for the answer. I can hereby promise that if anyone comes up with the silver bullet it will include “how to get commitment” as one of the most important ingredients.
There are teams with very talented team members and managers and challenging tasks but they fail to deliver and on the other hand there are teams with not as skilled team members or managers and boring tasks and they deliver. Why do we see this again and again?
My answer is Commitment.
Agile methodologies are a very good start to get the right prerequisites for a project to succeed. So why agile might work!
To start with, in Agile projects everyone involved should be in the planning meeting to make sure that they understand and can contribute to how the team should solve the problem. The team discusses the tasks together, breaks down the task to minor tasks so everyone understand the big picture, then they will estimate the tasks by playing planning poker and at last they decide how much they can commit to, using the pull scheduling.
Product owner (Customer) agrees to the planning and has thereby committed to the team.
When the iteration is over the team has a demo and retrospective on what they have done and how they can improve. Don’t forget that the team should be hold responsible to their tasks and improvement they have committed to do.
This sounds good and easy but sometimes this is not enough. So I have created a list of how to improve the commitment of the team.
- Building trust form all levels, team members to team members, team members to product owner and product owner to team members, maybe using the five dysfunction of a team
- Never start a new agile team if not everyone involved has at least a basic level of agile knowledge.
- Never start a new agile team without everyone being present at the first planning game.
- Make sure that there is at least a product owner or a proxy product owner on every planning game and that he or she is committed.
- As a ScrumMaster before finishing the planning game, ask every team member if they believe in the plan and if they are committed.
- The team must break down the stories and understand all tasks during the planning game.
- Only the team decides on how much they can commit to, think pull and not push scheduling
- Don’t let any new person into the team in the middle of iteration, if they have not been working with at least one Agile project previously.
- A good and active ScrumMaster that drives the team, helps team members with solving their impediments. Asking the team at the end of every daily meeting if they still think that the sprint will succeed and if not what can we do to get a better plan
- Make sure that the improvement discussed during the retrospective is applied
In the end I would like to address the importance of an open and interactive planning session (Sprint planning) as one of the keys to success with team commitment. Don’t be afraid of changing the plan and keeping the commitment of the team if the team does not believe in the plan anymore.