Thursday, December 22, 2011

Getting to know the team

The team itself is relatively new, and of course I am new in the team. I decided to do two small exercises this morning with the team. The one is what I call “Team barometer” and the other is what I know under the name “shield”. I started to develop the team barometer many years back and I cannot remember what kind of inputs I had – there were many. At that time, I knew nothing about Agile and Scrum and so I needed to modify the questions to adress some of the Agile & Scrum aspects for today. Here are the eighteen questions which I printed beforehand. Each team member needed to answer individually each question on a scale of 1..6 (1=Strongly Disagree; 2=Disagree; 3=Somewhat Disagree; 4=Somewhat Agree; 5=Agree; 6=Strongly Agree) (I know this is mean, and purposefully I push people into an either agree or disagreeing zone instead of allowing them to hang in the void area of a typically five or seven point Likert scale)
  1. I know and understand the product vision.
  2. I think the current release goals are realistic.
  3. Our team has a commonly shared sprint goal.
  4. I am confident that this team will meet the sprint goal.
  5. Our team is performing smoothly.
  6. My work gives me a feeling of personal achievement.
  7. I have had feedback from APO/LM in the past 60 days.
  8. I feel I am being treated with fairness and respect by the people I work with.
  9. I feel I am being treated with fairness and respect by my manager.
  10. My work schedule allows sufficient flexibility to meet my personal/family needs.
  11. Our team spirit is very strong and we have an open and constructive atmosphere.
  12. Information within my team is sufficient and the flow of information between our team and other groups is sufficient.
  13. The co-operation between my team and other groups works well.
  14. As a whole, I am very satisfied with working in this team.
  15. Our team is exploring different ways to do our work.
  16. We have clear boundaries on what we can decide in the team and what not.
  17. Management is supporting us by listening and removing impediments.
  18. If I could change one thing about my current work environment, (eg. computer workstation, meeting rooms, facilities, project setup, working practices, etc.") , it would be ….

Now the idea is not to start fancy statistical analysis. From a snapshot you might see the differences between individuals and you might see the problem areas of individuals and/or the entire team. If e.g., all except one person answer question #17 with a ”6” and the other person with a ”1” - its an individual case, if all team members answer this question with ”1”s and ”2”s, then the entire team is facing a problem – excellent starting ground for discussion for a ScrumMaster (remember the SYSTEMATIC problem solving approach!!!). More important then the snapshot are the trends, which means that the answering of the questionnaire need to happen regularly e.g., in combination with a retro?
The other exercise was to create a ”shield”. I am not sure if the idea is copyrighted by one of the Agile ”gurus”, if so, I hope its ok to mention the idea here and the author please may step forward to claim the ownership. Anyway, the shield looks like this: on the top you put your name, you divide the shield into four parts describing your (A) gifts, strengths (B), (C) Learning objectives and (D) ”Later”, ”Dreams”. On the bottom of your shield, you write ”the way you live by”. Typically, all this is written on a flip-chart paper maybe put nicely by using different colors. Then each person puts the shield on the wall and one by one each person presents his/her own shield. There are also other methods to achieve the same effect. Later (during the Glögi-Session) some of the team members commented that this was ”different” and they found it valuable. I did not wanted to start digging more, as it might have ruined the glögi and also the big boss wanted to give his xmas speech.

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