10 Characteristics of Successful Agile Teams


In the discussion in chapter 4 of the Agile Practice Guide about setting up an agile environment, the discussion centered first on the role of the servant leader vs. the role of the traditional project manager.

Before going through the actual individual roles on an agile team (the material on and after p. 40), the Guide goes through some characteristics that the most effective agile teams have.

  1. They tend to range in size from three to nine members in order to maximize collaboration between members.
  2. They are co-located in the same space–again, to facilitate communication and interaction between members.
  3. Team members are 100% dedicated to the teams, and are relieved from having to “multitask” during the day between multiple projects.   The team has all the necessary skills to deliver completed work.
  4. Teams are self-managed, where team members themselves decide who will perform the work within the next period’s defined scope.
  5. As mentioned in earlier posts, the leaders support the teams’ approach to their work, rather than directing it (the “servant leader” role).
  6. They produce functional product increments frequently.
  7. They have a limit on the WIP or work in progress, so its members can expedite work.
  8. They do not take a waterfall approach, that is, addressing all of the requirements in a given period, THEN tackling the design, THEN doing the building, THEN the testing.   The reason is that some of the assumptions behind the requirements may have changed and then all of that work is wasted.   Rather, the team members collaborate on a small number of features across the board, and work on delivering smaller finished features.
  9. Agile teams work to collaborate in various ways, and use feedback from retrospectives to alter their way of doing things if necessary, focusing on the result more than the process itself.
  10. Agile teams bring a mixture of generalists and specialists, with the aim of producing “generalizing specialists” who have a focus specialty plus breadth of experience across multiple skills.

In the next post, I will go over the material starting on p. 40 of the Agile Alliance Guide that talks about three common roles in agile teams.

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