Team building

How to learn working together, together.

For my first article, I'll write a piece of opinion about team building. They are my views on the subject and I try to link this with the recent activity around "I want my XP back".

Somehow team building sounds very dull, as some forced way of getting together outside the office to "have fun". This becomes the case when you can sense that the HR department has been secretly drafting activities. Usually to have fun activities aimed at becoming a more synergistic organization (but on your own free time).

And of course most team builders are fun (with a initial struggle). But especially if your organization has adopted any form of agile process. You really shouldn't need that and have just fun instead.

The problem with most organizations

I think most organizations new to agile start out with scrum, find it very hard to really grasp it at first. Then often managers start something you could call: Process Fitting (TM). If this sounds familiar or not, I can recommend you to read Ron Jeffries piece: Context my foot.

It's worth repeating that making small changes rather than being disturbing is a good thing. But after inception of a new management style, organizations forget to keep going! Keep up that pace of learning and small improvement. Adopting agile also means having a process in place that continues to work towards getting Software 'Done Done' better and faster.

Now I can only speak from my perspective and this doesn't have to be all true. So here are some general tips to close off with:

  • Once you know how to move within an agile framework. Use your new ability to change the environment and how people work together. Not the framework itself.
  • When you have stabilized: have regular, but effective retrospectives. In our case this means do it only after changes settle in. Is there an upcoming retro planned, but you don't see big opportunities? Use that slot of time to do something fun with the team.
  • Have no more than 3 action items from a retrospective. Do you have retro's every two weeks? Then you get about ±75 changes per year, in one team environment! Meaning the way how people work inside the team and the outside interaction with it. For a small team 3-5 this is too often in my experience. So we collectively prefer every 3 weeks.

So to go back to team building. I think organizations can do this during office hours. And let the real fun trips outside office hours not be about work. Just get to know each other better and have laughter. Do it!

Signing off,

Btw, I really want / like to hear from you who read this! Did you like it or not, what do you think about team building? DM me or reply to status/591179575817854976.

Posted on Apr 23
Written by Stefano Oldeman