Join Doug Rose for an in-depth discussion in this video Training the agile team, part of Agile at Work: Building Your Agile Team.
- The best way to start agile in your organization is to think small. Begin with a small core team and make sure they correctly follow the agile framework. If you work at a mid-sized organization, then the team can have as little as four people. Then you can expand agile in your organization through conversion by contagion. First, you get one team up and running using agile. Then you have that team introduce agile to the rest of the teams. So you convert one team to agile and then share their contagious excitement with the rest of the organization. Work closely with that first team to make sure they explain agile correctly.
The first team will need to be well trained. Try to keep this core team happy. If they like agile then they'll be your strongest advocates for change. This small team will be the ones talking in the lunchroom with the rest of the organization. You want the contagious excitement to be grounded with good knowledge of agile. Give them time to be successful. They should see the benefits of the change. Don't spend too much time trying to sell agile to the team. Instead put all of your energy into making agile work well. To get the team to work well you need to work with your optimists and the skeptics.
Because this core team will be your ambassadors for agile, you need to make sure that they are correctly following the framework. If the first team doesn't understand agile, then they will likely spread a lot of misinformation. Usually in an organization the misinformation is much harder to stamp out than facts. A well trained core team will keep you from having a lot of retraining in the future. I once worked for an organization where the developers wrote most of the user stories. In agile, the Product Owner writes the user stories.
I asked how this problem started and they traced it back to a misunderstood exercise in the agile training. The core team went to this training and spread this misinformation to the rest of the organization. Once the practice was solidified, it was almost impossible to restart correctly. The retraining took longer than it would have taken to carefully explain the first exercise. That's why the core group is usually the most important group to go through training. Ideally the training should happen before the work begins.
The core should have two goals. The first goal is get everybody understanding the rules of agile. The second goal is try to give the team a forum for discussing their doubts and concerns. If the organization isn't ready it should certainly be discussed in the training. One way to keep this from happening is to make sure that your trainer is not the same person who is selling other agile products. A good sales person will never want an open forum to discuss whether or not the product was a good idea. Instead, try to find agile trainers from a local university.
You can also find certified agile trainers on certification websites like the Scrum Alliance. A good trainer shouldn't be afraid of challenging questions. If possible you should try to have everyone on the team attend training at the same time. This is especially true for Product Owners. Often a Product Owner is the last person identified. That doesn't mean that they should miss out on the training. In fact Product Owners are usually one of the greatest beneficiaries of the training. They may be the least familiar with agile.
A well trained team is a good investment. The team will start with good habits before bad habits have a chance to settle in. It also creates some of your most enthusiastic agile champions. A team that is excited and doing agile well will have a significant impact on the rest of the organization. If you're the Scrum Master for the team, then be sure to invest enough time and effort in making sure that the team is well trained.
- Starting agile in your organization
- Defining team roles and responsibilities
- Letting the team self-organize
- Training the team
- Thinking and delivering like an agile team
- Avoiding pitfalls