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Idea#31

Proposals accepted for shepherding.
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Growing the Concept of a "Whole Team"

Session Leader Name(s):
Matt Barcomb, Lisa Crispin

Session Leader Names: Lisa Crispin & Matt Barcomb

Audience Level: Novice/Practicing

Duration: 60min(lecture-style) or 90-120min(workshop-style)

By now, many organizations that have taken up the mantra of agile embrace the concept of "whole team". However this is often a truncated implementation of the concept, usually taking the form of a blended team of testers and coders sitting together. A progressive organization may have also included designers and maybe even DBAs into the mix. Normally though, this inclusion of other roles is often left out, and many believe the practice of "whole team" doesn't scale to enterprise organizational structures.

In this session, Lisa and Matt will discuss the concepts and patterns behind whole teams and suggest ways these may be applied to other roles teams typically need. Also addressed will be how to adjust for support or shared teams within a large department or project. Finally, the topic of "business agility" will be considered, applying the whole team concept to other business functions and organizational value streams.

Key Learnings:

- Underlying patterns and principles behind "whole team".

- Applying to other team-based roles

- Applying to intra-department/project shared teams

- Folding in other business units to align along value streams

Session Leader Backgrounds:

Matt Barcomb (@mattbarcomb) is passionate about building collaborative, cross-functional teams; enjoys being out-of-doors; loves punning; and thrives on guiding organizations towards holistic, sustainable, emergent improvement. Matt started programming as a wee lad and eventually wound up getting paid for it. It took him nearly 10 years before he realized that the "people problem" was the biggest issue facing most software development. Since then he has spent his time and energy trying to find interesting ways of making the business-software universe a better place to work, play and do business. Matt currently resides in Cleveland and is employed with LeanDog where he keeps especially busy with organizational transformations, and shares his insights on his blog http://blog.risingtideharbor.com/

Lisa Crispin is the co-author, with Janet Gregory, of Agile Testing: A Practical Guide for Testers and Agile Teams (Addison-Wesley, 2009), co-author with Tip House of Extreme Testing (Addison-Wesley, 2002), and a contributor to Experiences of Test Automation by Dorothy Graham and Mark Fewster (Addison-Wesley, 2011) and Beautiful Testing (O’Reilly, 2009). She enjoys sharing her experiences via writing, presenting, teaching and participating in agile testing communities around the world. Lisa was named one of the 13 Women of Influence in testing by Software Test & Performance magazine. For more about Lisa’s work, visit www.lisacrispin.com. @lisacrispin on Twitter, entaggle.com/lisacrispin

Comment

Submitted by 2 years ago

Comments (6)

  1. We have had most pain trying to get the teams working well between intra-department/project shared teams, so I would be interested to hear this topic expanded and info to help with this. Some focus may be best put on team personalities and intra-department culture as this seems to be our issue, where one department namely SW Dev team has a great attitude, but release and operations are like sticky mud when it comes to "getting things done" in an Enterprise. And dont get me started on Security guy! You have my vote.

    2 years ago
  2. Can you be more specific about what "other roles" you'd be talking about? Also, it's unclear what the learning "Folding in other business units to align along value streams" might be. Can you elaborate?

    2 years ago
    1. Matt Barcomb Idea Submitter

      There is a lot more to “whole teams” than just functional roles, but that is a starting point, a hygiene factor perhaps. So with regard to functional roles, sometimes it is easy to identify missing needs by either work that is routinely blocked or work that gets kicked back frequently. As I stated in the proposal, these are often times the “normal” roles that folks think of such as testers, designer’s, DBAs etc… Less obvious roles sometimes take someone with an outside perspective to highlight; roles such as operations, security, and documentation. When these cross functional teams are organized in a larger context, they should be done so that incremental slices of value can be delivered.

      However, “whole team” goes far beyond roles and cross-training. I often use the phrase “whole teams move from functional to function”…mostly because I prefer to think in terms of the various functions a team must possess in order to be truly whole. Functions such as leadership, communication, a common goal, an understood purpose and the ability to reflect, adapt, learn and grow. These functions, while softer or “fuzzier” are just as important for a team to be whole.

      Also, the above is only considering any single team, mostly in a vacuum. That is rarely the case, at least for the work I do in enterprise transformation. I normally see additional “support teams” such as data management, shared services or enterprise architecture. Too often even more silos and fiefdoms are built around these as well. There are a number of patterns for better organizing or aligning these “enterprise support” teams as well. One simple example is to create a single cross-functional support team that is dedicated to a smaller number of delivery teams. This group of teams is also, in fact, a team which can then be given a common goal and purpose aligning it with organizational value delivery.

      So far I’ve described nothing outside the boundaries of most enterprise’s IT departments, but the patterns and concepts of “whole team” continue to scale, though their particular applications vary. Other aspects of a business impact delivery teams too, such as finance, marketing, support, sales, HR, etc… Using “whole team” concepts when folding in these other areas of business is crucial in maintaining organizational alignment to value streams and allow organizations to think of “teams” in a much more holistic view than what is currently the status quo.

      As for how to identify the missing functions, experience can help a lot, but I believe any team in a safe environment that has the ability to retrospect and improve over time can discover them. As the scale of the “team” increases so does its complexity. Herein lies the beauty of self-organization :) Following the few simple principles and patterns of “whole team” can allow the identification of missing functions to scale as teams do. If leadership sets clear goals and places reasonable constraints then teams, sometimes with a little outside assistance, can regulate, improve and optimize themselves.

      I hope this answers your questions thoroughly enough.

      2 years ago
  3. I'm sold out on the whole team approach, but don't often get to practice what I preach to the fullest extent. With that in mind, here are a few questions/comments:

    1. I like that you will present different patterns - will you also talk about the results/benefits of those patterns? Is there a story to tell that I can share with others?

    2. I'd like to come away with ideas for how I can teach the concepts in my local community. Will you be including a game, hands-on activity, interesting discussion questions, etc that helps make the point?

    3. If I attend, I look forward to hearing your patterns so that I can compare them with the ones I've found have worked well. If it only gets a 60 minute slot will I have time to interact with your ideas?

    Thanks - Steve

    2 years ago
    1. Matt Barcomb Idea Submitter

      1. I like that you will present different patterns - will you also talk about the results/benefits of those patterns? Is there a story to tell that I can share with others?

      Yes! Pros and cons for a few specific patterns, but will drive from principles. Stories and anecdotes aplenty

      2. I'd like to come away with ideas for how I can teach the concepts in my local community. Will you be including a game, hands-on activity, interesting discussion questions, etc that helps make the point?

      This depends on the format we get to provide, but even the 60 minute session should have some individual and small group thought exercises. Longer times = richer activity-based content :)

      3. If I attend, I look forward to hearing your patterns so that I can compare them with the ones I've found have worked well. If it only gets a 60 minute slot will I have time to interact with your ideas?

      I would always have time for Q&A…I prefer throughout instead of snow plowed to the end. Guiding a discussion and still trying to touch on key points is fun. Of course, there is always time between and after sessions as well :D

      2 years ago
  4. Moderator

    I am also liking the 'whole team' concept, but I am skeptical that this is bringing anything more concrete than the lip-service that the mainstream pays to it.

    My perfection game rating: 7/10.

    To reach a 10/10

    please elaborate on how 'shared' commitment/understanding etc towards meeting the goals might be practically addressed

    what patterns and practices you have observed for helping whole teams form and thrive - specifically helping its members engage

    2 years ago

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