This week, I am writing about something that shocked me the first time I saw it happen… then I became numb from seeing it so much.Now, I hope this article shocks me — and others — out of something that should never happen in on an Agile Team.
One of my colleagues once walked into a room with a new team. When he told me about it, he said something along the lines of, “It was so quiet you could hear the waterfall.”
Think about that last statement for a moment. I’ll stick around.
Welcome back. Good thought break? Hope so.
When *I* hear this statement, I realize a team is probably not working to its full potential. There can be many reasons for this.
The first reason, and obvious most of the time, is that a lot of people in our industry are introverts. For instance, I am an introvert. I have to actually *work* at talking to people and it does take a lot out of me when doing a workshop or meeting with a group of people. To recharge, I need quiet time alone. Other people I know are completely opposite… they are totally jazzed after doing a workshop or are completely comfortable when at a party working a room. They’d go crazy in silence.
So, how does this relate to an Agile Team Room?
Besides realizing the differences between introverts and extroverts, I also have realized that teams converting from waterfall methodologies (big up-front-designs) to working in a room with other people may need help making the transition.
When I see this as a serious problem — and I do — in new teams I work with, I work hard to actually settle in work with individuals to make little changes on a daily basis.
One person at a time.
This includes things like when scheduling a meeting within the room with the same team members… I work with people on the team to break out of the habit of scheduling something in Outlook (or other calendar systems) when it only impacts the members on the team. See… they are in the same room on a daily basis. If they are not…. influencing the breaking of this habit yields some great results.
So what do I do? After a standup in the morning, I try to facilitate team members to talk about when to “schedule” time to dive into details (usually discussed during the standup) using a white board or flip chart as their “new schedule”. This starts getting people talking. And working together.
Making it visible to all involved parties. You never know what can happen when people start talking in the room — and what others can actually contribute.
Usually after a few weeks people start realizing that they can actually do this on their own, throughout the day. Without “scheduling” meetings for internal meetings of the team members that are in the room together all day.
Sounds simple. But.
That is one of the hard habits to break on a team that is culturally adept at meetings to have meetings to have meetings (and so on).
The same ideas apply to the usage of Instant Messenger programs. I have sat and watched people in a room — a totally silent room — typing away “talking” to one another as they are sitting right with each other.
This is insane. But a regular occurrence.
As I see this happening, again I work with individuals in actually putting the two people together to talk. Using language skills instead of typing. Typing sucks as a way to communicate with each other… because I have read (and know this from experience) that 90% of all human interaction is by non-verbal cues. And, email or Instant Messenger cannot convey that.
Heck… This blog is one-way communication, with me trying to make assumptions that the reader (you!) understands what I am writing and how I really mean it. That is tough, especially since most of us have never met in person (nor we will ever).
So… if you see this happening on your team today — or in the future — work with individuals (one on one) to make small changes on a daily basis.
Doing this will result in a happier and more productive team. I promise.
January 22, 2007