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Seeds of Vulnerability (Habits of a Successful Agile Team)

Rachel Rieck Rachel Rieck  |  
Jun 20, 2019
 
My last blog (Introduction to Team Delta) talked about a project team I was on called Delta that was very successful. In this blog, and the ones following, I'm going to talk about the characteristics and the foundation that we found was key to our success, as well as what was different from some of the other teams that we've seen in action.
 
We found that if the Scrum Master, the Business Analyst (who many times acts as the product owner proxy), and the Tech Lead stayed completely in sync with each other on all different facets, then we were able to move much more swiftly through the project and also be able to coach and lead the others who were on our team. Those three key roles, and how we work together, is the Trifecta of Greatness.
 
trifecta of greatness
 

Characteristics of Great Agile Team Members

I know there is a lot of discussion around who is a fit for Scrum and an agile team. It's good to have a mix of different types of personalities. For me, the key characteristics of great agile team members include:
  • Passion
  • Organization
  • Self-Motivation
  • Vocalization
  • Confidence
 
Maybe some passive, quiet types do well in agile. But, in consulting, I believe that's not the case. It's a positive situation to have the characteristics listed above when and if you're able to choose who can be on your project team. Now, that's not necessarily reality. We aren't always able to choose who's on our team. But if you can choose, I would focus on these characteristics when you're interviewing or building your team.
 
Now let's get into some of the techniques, habits and reinforcements you can use to help develop your team. This is really the meat and potatoes of this blog series.
 

Mistakes are Welcome; Learning is Fun

Everybody talks about this, but how do you implement it? How do you really do it? People can say that mistakes are welcome, but it doesn't necessarily mean that they believe it, or they support it. As a leader, you need to plant seeds of vulnerability with your team regarding yourself, and from there it can grow into the whole team.
 
For example, I am the Scrum Master, and I am going to make mistakes as the leader to show that it's okay to make mistakes. I'm going to welcome feedback, and I'm going to start cultivating an environment that shows that mistakes really are okay, that we can grow as a team, and that we can trust each other. You want to do that as a leader. You want your other leads to also plant seeds of vulnerability with the team members they're leading (or with anyone).
 
Of course, you can pre-plant those seeds. For example, I can tell my Business Analyst that I am going to start messing around with her backlog. Since she owns the backlog, I want her to call me out for messing around in it. I'll do that on purpose, even though I know better. Why? Because I want to teach other members on the team that it's okay to speak up. They won't know that we pre-planned my mistake. Make sure you have each lead planting seeds of vulnerability with other leads.
 
Sometimes there really will be mistakes. If you have new associates that are onboarding to your project, you want to especially show them that (if they make a mistake) they will be supported so they can learn and grow and bond in with the team.
 

Vulnerability Builds Trust

Agile's all about not being perfect, but people are afraid to not be perfect. Planting seeds of vulnerability is a trust-building exercise that fosters an environment where it's okay to be imperfect (because no one’s perfect). I encourage you to try planting these seeds of vulnerability and really showing your team (especially new team members) that mistakes are welcome. It's fantastic and works every single time.
 

Watch the Full Presentation

This blog is an excerpt of a 33-minute presentation on The Trifecta of Greatness: Creating and Capitalizing on a High-Performing Team. To get all the tips right now, watch our free video.
 
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