Why Agile Teams Have to Understand How to Analyze and Make adjustments

David Tzemach

Posted On: December 28, 2022

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Why Agile Teams Have to Understand How to Analyze and Make adjustments

How do we acquire knowledge? This is one of the seemingly basic but critical questions you and your team members must ask and consider. We are experts; therefore, we understand why we study and what we should learn. However, many of us do not give enough thought to how we learn.

The importance of “Self-learning”

This is not a question from an outside source, such as a member of your staff or someone authorized to evaluate your performance. This is a question you should be asking yourself. Most of us can write a bulleted list of three to five things we can do to help, such as reading, completing training programs, talking with team members, issue-solving, and attending webinars. When we do this, we must question ourselves, “Did I do any of these in the last six or twelve months?” Is this merely a wish list, or is this something that happened a long time ago?” It is necessary since it allows you to validate and amend the things on your list. Put this into practice at your next staff meeting or coaching session. Learning is an ongoing process. We place ourselves on the path to success when we understand our primary and secondary learning strategies and apply them to improve ourselves again and again. This is true for everyone working in agile initiatives, but especially for team members.

According to my own experience as someone who is motivated to learn every day and has been transferring knowledge for over a decade, self-knowledge is crucial as it enables you to understand your way of learning. It means that you will know what type of learning will work best for you. Some of us learn by attending training sessions, and formal training programs, observing the happening around us, experimenting, or simply having on-the-job experience.

Walking the Talk

The way you and the rest of your agile team learn and practice what you learn at regular intervals determines if you and the rest of your agile team are “talking the talk.” To ask questions, discuss ideas, and comprehend different points of view from all team members, an agile endeavor requires appropriate comfort and boldness. It does not encourage or give extended periods of seclusion. It is founded on cooperation and teamwork. Continuous learning in a group context is essential for agile team success. Agile teams may learn effectively through group and collaborative learning. What enhances learning and translates information into action is action orientation.

A Learning Opportunity

We no longer live in a conventional waterfall environment where we wait until the completion of each project to reflect and learn. We live in an iterative and incremental environment with numerous opportunities to learn, apply what we learn, improve, and ensure that the lessons gained are put into practice to provide meaningful solutions to our clients. This is an opportunity that we have never taken advantage of systematically in the past.

We can now learn from our daily work, team retrospectives, and consumer feedback. We can get the most out of this opportunity if each of us answers the question “How do I learn?” with conviction.

Orientation to Action

The first stage is to learn from your day-to-day interactions, team interactions, and retrospectives. The next stage is to put what you’ve learned into practice as soon as possible. This is what allows you to progress. This necessitates group decision-making and action orientation, which is simply getting things done. This is another collaborative team task. A delicate combination of people-orientation and task orientation is what allows agile teams to put what they learn from iteration to iteration into practice. It’s simpler stated than done. It necessitates a great deal of cooperation and coordination.

Positive reinforcement is ensured in agile teams through action orientation and rapid course correction. Positive reinforcement increases team engagement, which translates into increased throughput and quality. This leads to satisfied customers.
When learning is ineffective or action direction is lacking, agile teams find moving from iteration to iteration unsatisfying or demotivating. That is not a promising indication. It has a declining effect. Agile teams struggle to retain their agility in the absence of good retrospectives.

Delivering Working Software

Delivering usable software in small increments at a sustainable pace is difficult in your first one or two projects since you and your team members or business users are in uncharted territory. Allow me to tell you a story. One of my project teams decided to deliver in short iterations a few years ago.

We took on more than we could handle in order to display our good intentions. We were always willing to make adjustments. “That’s insane!” you say. That’s not agility!” Our product manager was suffering from “feature-itis.” We wanted to show ourselves by making our PO happy. We were afraid of saying no. We never stopped to think. We never followed up to seek feedback from corporate users. You can predict what occurred next.

Of course, our team members were stressed and burned out. It was a clear indication of an extraordinary pace. To cut a long tale short, our methodology did not take into account learning and the ability to “observe and adjust.” We had to take a moment to contemplate. We organized an offsite one-day team gathering to envision the future of our project. To enhance our strategy, we needed to make a significant course correction or overhaul. That’s when we discovered the need for continuous team learning, team retrospectives, and learning from consumer feedback.

Agile teams must be disciplined in order to produce in short iterations while still ensuring positive encouragement as they progress. This is attainable if iteration actions are carried out meticulously. Iteration planning, for example, offers a good foundation for the remainder of the iteration by including user stories, and estimates, developing a work breakdown structure, identifying dependencies, making a commitment based on the team’s capabilities, and many other processes. Furthermore, the efficacy of iteration end activities like review, Planning, and retrospective allows for continuous improvement in subsequent iterations.

Discover, Adapt, and Keep improving

I now begin my coaching sessions with the basic question presented earlier: “How do we learn?” This is not a random question. I invite the participants to think about it. I inspire team members to engage in self-inquiry and look for answers. This is accomplished in a group environment. When I begin this activity, the participants gradually open up, share their responses, and begin discussing. This allows them to see how they learn as individuals and grasp the similarities in order to optimize team learning. I believe this is where agility begins.

In your organization, you must go through the “learn-apply-improve” process. You learn primarily from two sources: team retrospectives and feedback from business users. Collective choices and action items based on what you learned contribute to the improvement of your business, which leads to positive reinforcement. This is because you went through the learning process and came to a consensus on what to do next. Nobody outside of your team stepped in and told you what to do. Isn’t it an easy task to begin with?

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David Tzemach

The founder and owner of the Agile Quality Made Easy blog (25K followers). A platform that he uses for teaching and coaching others, sharing knowledge with people, and guiding them towards success while giving them the inspiration and tools to discover their own path.

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