In a recent post, Mishkin outlined the Leadership Team component of the Real Agility Program. While the Leadership Team track focuses on developing leadership capacity for sustained transformation, The Execution track focuses on launching and developing high-performance project, product and operational teams. This track is the one that most of our clients use when they run Agile pilot programs and is a critical component of getting quick wins for the organization.
Groundbreaking works such as The Wisdom of Teams (Katzenbach & Smith), The Five Dysfunctions of a Team (Lencioni) and Drive (Pink) have served well to distill the essential requirements of high-performance teams. Scrum, Kanban, and OpenAgile are proven frameworks that optimize the value of teams and create the necessary working agreements to help teams reach that high-performance state.
The Delivery Team track of the Real Agility Program creates new, cross-functional, multi-skilled, staff-level teams of willing individuals. These teams are responsible for delivering value—business results and quality. Individuals are committed to the performance of the team and the organization. Teams develop the capacity to self-organize and focus on continuous improvement and learning. A team is usually composed of people from various roles at the delivery level. For example, and IT project team might be composed of people whose previous* roles were:
- Project manager
- Business analyst
- Software developer
- Database developer
- Team lead
- User experience lead
* These roles do not get carried into the new delivery team other than as a set of skills.
The track begins with establishing pre-conditions for success including executive sponsorship, availability of team members and management support. Team launch involves a series of on-the-job team development workshops designed to enable the teams to create their own set of values, working agreements and high-performance goals. Teams are guided in the creation of their initial work backlogs, defining “done”, estimation and planning and self-awareness through the use of a collaborative skills matrix. The teams are also assisted in setting up collocated team rooms and other tools to optimize communication and productivity.
Qualified coaches assist the teams to overcome common issues such as personal commitment, initial discomfort with physical colocation, communication challenges of working with new people in a new way, management interference and disruptions and appropriate allocation of authority. This assistance is delivered on a regular schedule as the team progresses through a series of steps in the Execution track process. Usually, these steps take one or two weeks each, but sometimes they take longer. A team that needs to get to a high-performance state quickly might go through the entire program in 10 or 12 weeks. In an organization where there is not the same urgency, it can take up to a year to get through the steps of the track.
The coaches for this Execution track also help management to resist and overcome the strong urge to manage the problems of the teams for them. In order to develop through the stages of team development, teams need to be effectively guided and encouraged to solve their own problems and chart their own courses towards high-performance.
The goal of the Execution track of the Real Agility Program is to help the team go through the stages of forming-storming-norming and set them up to succeed in becoming a high-performance team. Of course, to do this requires some investment of time. Although the Execution track is meant to be done as on-the-job coaching, there is a 5% to 20% level of overhead related to the Real Agility Program materials themselves.