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One of the conditions of a Team is continuous coaching. This is to enable the team to become high-performing and well functioning. Without putting time and effort into team coaching it is very hard to become high-performing as a team, and most teams need experts to support in the beginning to move beyond friction and into the phase of the structure.

The 5 Stages of a Team

1. Inclusion

The team meets and learns about the work that needs to be done and what’s expected of them. Members avoid disagreement because they fear rejection at this stage, making the leader a central role providing
direction. There is a desire for order, roles, and structure.

The need of the team: All team members understand the purpose of the team and want to be part of it. Team members know and accept each other and feel accepted as a member of the team.

The leaders role: Provide structure. Make sure everyone is included. Initiate open discussions of values & goals.

Common leadership pitfalls: Analysis paralysis / Not daring to make decisions. Thinking the leader need to have all answers.


2. Friction

The team starts challenging the defined boundaries, such as process and working agreements and voice differences in individual working styles and behaviors. Team members challenge each other. Some question the team’s goals altogether. Typically, this will be a challenging phase.

The need of the team: Understanding of each other’s behavioral style and intention. Improved ability to resolve disagreement effectively. 

The leaders role: Support, coach & train the team in how to keep an open dialogue. Help solve conflicts. Build trust.

Common leadership pitfalls: Picking on individuals – stay focused on ideas, not personalities. A leader that’s unwilling to compromise. A belief that the team needs conflict to advance from this stage – allow disagreement but don’t foster conflict.


3. Structure

The team has the ability to resolve disagreement and integrates their personal differences. They revisit goals and objectives and redefine structures, working agreements, roles, and processes to support them.

The need of the team: Time to work out structures within the team such as processes, goals, roles, and working agreements. Everyone feels that issues regarding ways of working that are important to them have been discussed.

The leaders role: Act as consultants when needed. Support by removing impediments outside of the team.

Common leadership pitfalls: Not taking the time to make sure everyone’s perspective is represented. Trying to get everyone to conform to the same values. Trying to find the perfect solution.


4. Performing

The team have agreement on goals and objectives and work towards them together. The team is competent in decision making and conflict resolution with minimal or no supervision. The team rapidly gains important knowledge through knowledge sharing – there’s no information hoarding. Relationships and results are equally important.

The need of the team: The team is self-managed and continuously evaluate their own performance.

The leaders role: Share responsibilities with the team. Reward initiative. Coach & facilitate individual development.

Leadership pitfalls: Expecting to not have to further improve and still maintaining high performance.

Signs of what phase the team is in

1. Inclusion

▢ ​Team members are highly dependent on the leader — leader talks, members nod

▢ ​Team members are polite, do not disagree with each other, and do not challenge each other

▢ ​Focus on pseudo-work – for example exchanging stories about customers or their families that are irrelevant to the task at hand

▢ ​Team members stick to safe topics

2. Friction

▢ ​There is visible and invisible disagreement between team members

▢ ​Disagreement leads to questioning of the group’s existence

▢ ​Team members turn to their favorites or no-one for help because trust is not yet established

▢ ​Participation is varied and unbalanced. Some are checked out, some are reserved, and conversations are often dominated by a few members

▢ ​Sub-groups are exclusive and not welcoming to other team members

▢ ​There’s competition between team members

▢ ​Unvoiced opinions start surfacing–maybe along with
frustration

▢​Team members challenge irrelevant details

3. Structure

▢ ​The team starts making use of each others strengths, asks for differing points of view, and integrates differences, and as a result, it becomes difficult to see who the leader is

▢ ​The whole team works together to refine structures, processes, roles, working agreements, and goals

▢ ​Disagreement is brought up and settled effectively

▢ ​Team members express a sense of relief over low anxiety levels

▢ ​Team members remain empathetic towards each other even at times of disagreements

▢​ ​Cohesion around the product, process, and behaviors, starts being developed

4. Performing

▢ ​Work appears to be effortless

▢ ​Evaluation is focused on performance and impact rather than structure and relationships

▢ ​There’s a balance between process and task orientation

▢ ​Team members display high levels of interdependence (mutual reliance)

▢ ​Tasks & communication have high levels of clarity and are cohesive towards the purpose of the team.

Coaching Agile Teams Guide

Download the guide to reflect and help the teams at all times. Many times when conflicts arise in a team, you need to address it right then. And pointing out that they are in the phase of friction, and that it is very natural usually helps the team a lot to also overcome the conflicts more easily.

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Are you a well-functioning Agile team?

These questions can give you an idea of what a well-functioning Agile team looks and feels like. If you are a newly formed team you can see the questions as a benchmark for the future and continue to revisit them as a team, as your Agility grows.

These questions can be discussed and answered in combination with the Team Maturity questions.

Why self-evaluation matters

There is a reason teams should evaluate themselves, and not be evaluated. If the team takes responsibility for their own progress and improvement, they also take ownership of evaluating their own performance. If someone else would use their data to compare teams across the organization, or to perhaps set salaries, then it would not be a safe place anymore and people and teams would not dare to show any flaws, and improvement would, therefore, be impossible.

Download and Print the Self Evaluation Sheet (PDF)

Facilitation

Consider doing this reflection with your team or group:

  1. The questions can be answered by you as an individual first. Give concrete examples when appropriate.
  2. Reflect on your answers and then share them with your team in a visual format, let everyone first share their thinking around their answers without discussion or comments. 
  3. Create an overview of your answers, for example with red and green marks on each question to see where you diverge in your thinking. Green= Fully agree, Red= Do not agree.
  4. Prioritize what to improve, find actions, and plan them into your work. Evaluate and re-iterate as soon as possible.

Self-reflection for Agile teams 

  1. The team agrees on and shares the same Agile values and practice them on a daily basis. 
  2. The team consists of about 5-7 people (or you consider a team split when above 10).
  3. The team has worked together over a long period of time and has focused on becoming well-functioning and high-performing (6-12 months)
  4. The team has the mandate to make business decisions.
  5. Skills are more important than roles, which enables team members to become T-shape.
  6. The team strives to have the competences in the team to deliver customer value end to end.
  7. The team works in an empirical process, enabling us to get early feedback and deliver what actually brings value.
  8. The team has the ability to set purpose and clear goals that help the team focus.
  9. The team owns the HOW of our deliveries.
  10. The team meets with customers and stakeholders regularly to understand needs and to test their solutions. 
  11. The team has structured ways of working with improvement and we are always improving everything.

Good Luck!

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What do you usually say is the difference between those who succeed and those who don’t? Those who succeed always tries something new when “failing” using the learnings, and they always take smaller steps moving in their wanted direction to get to their next goal on the way.

With that in mind we designed this canvas as part of a training we created some time ago, the Dandy People Agile Power Up program. The main purpose of the improvement canvas is to give support to teams to continuously improve. What is great about it is that it works in any context, on BIG stuff or a bit smaller, and for any team or group, or individual.

During our training program that lasts over 10 weeks the participants gets to use it as an exercise in smaller groups to get familiar with how to use it and the thinking behind it, but also bring it in in to their day to day work. Many says it really helps them to focus and do real improvements step by step. Some also realize they have never really thought about change and improvement as a step by step process before and thet this canvas helped them to focus on finding the next small steps to take in the right direction, instead of trying to go big and reach that full, often too complex, goal directly.

FREE DOWNLOAD: Download the improvement canvas for free (PDF) >

The four different areas

Challenge / Current state

First you start by understanding your current situation and defining what the challenge is.This is a great thing to do together to get a shared view of how it is today and what you think could improve. Write it in the canvas.

Definition of awesome

Then you want to take a look at and define what it would look like if it was just awesome, if everything was like you would like it to be. Define it together as well and put it too into the canvas. Getting a shared picture of this is crucial for enabling you to get there together.

Next wanted state

What would a next target state look like as a step in the right direction? What would have changed then? Also look at the time frame, when would you like it to be achieved? This should then be something you can evaluate to see if you have reached this next wanted state or not – and if not come up with new next steps or experiments to do. Or if you have reached your next wanted state, is it like your definition of awesome, or do you want to continue to moe closer to it? If so, set your new next wanted state and continue once again.

First steps

What are the actions you can take to move closer to your next wanted state? Evaluate if you are moving towards your next wanted state when possible and adjust your actions if needed, and define more when needed.

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Collaboration, innovation, and high performance rarely come from teams that haven’t had the time or the chance to get to know each other, build a strong foundation of common values, and a psychologically safe environment.

No matter if it is a development team, a leadership team, or an operation team, as humans we all need to go through this process to make the magic happen. And when the team works remotely, this is even more important and it can take even longer.

The “Remote Team Culture Canvas” is a way to facilitate and speed up this process by filling up together the canvas, using it as a common ground for healthy -and fun- discussions.

Download the Team Canvas for free in high resolution (PDF) >

Remote team canvas
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En teambaserad organisation är ett ekosystem av team. Dessa kort är tänkta att användas för att kartlägga nuläget för respektive team i organisationen och sätta mål för vilka typer av team man skulle vilja ha och därigenom identifiera vad som håller teamen tillbaka från att ta sig dit.

Den här modifierade versionen av team topologier bygger på det fantastiska arbetet från teamtopologies.com som är skapat utifrån ett DevOps-perspektiv. De tillägg och justeringar vi har gjort på ursprungsmodellen syftar till att möjliggöra en tydligare produkt-ledd organisation där agila ledningsteam utifrån Agile Management Areas är en viktig del och justering för kundcentrerade produktteam där ofta även marknad och tech möts i gemensamma team, i stället för enbart stream aligned vilket är mer vanligt på en IT / Infrastrukturavdelning.

Conway’s Law är ett begrepp som pekar på att system ofta speglar organisationen som bygger dem, dvs för att justera de teamen man i nuläget har som ofta är av typen komponent-team och röra sig mot ett ekosystem som bygger på produktteam behöver man göra en omvänd Conway’s Law design. Då utgår man från vilka förmågor man skulle vilja att organisationen, och teamen har, kanske vill man att teamen har förmåga att ansvara för en optimal upplevelse direkt till slutanvändare utan mellanhänder. Äger produktutvecklings-processen end-to-end. Tar ansvar för det de bygger över tid och ser till att det skapar verksamhets och affärsnytta på både kort- och lång sikt – det vill säga vara ett Produktteam. Viktigt är att betona att man alltid behöver en mix av team i alla organisationer, enbart produkt-team är inte eftersträvansvärt, utan vanligt är att man har plattformsteam samt även enabling team, vad man dock vill gå ifrån är komplicerat subsystem-team (komponentteam), samt ha team med både produkt, plattform och enabling uppdrag.

Utifrån det målet kan man sedan identifiera vilka typer av team man har i nuläget, samt vilka typer av team man behöver för att steg för steg förändra den tekniska arkitekturen och förmågan i organisationen för att möjliggöra mer autonoma produktteam på sikt.

Alla team behöver även få tydligt definierade mål som de kan arbeta mot. Dessa mål ser olika ut beroende på vilket typ av team de är, men målet brukar var att ha uppdrag för teamen som spänner över ca 6 – 12 månader som gör att de själva kan se om de bidrar med värde och stöttar dom i att göra löpande prioriteringar.

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“On the Cover” is a great exercise to define the vision for a product, service, company… you name it!

Use it with your team to define your vision. If you create one each you can then share your thoughts with each other. It might just be valuable to see if you are aligned with eachother on the big picture, but you can also create one picture together and build on what you all shared and find the next level together.

If you are far away from each other on important topics, talk about why and what that means. It is valuable to get a shared vision to be able to know if we are doing the right things and to engage the team.

Free High-Resolution Download of the “On the Cover Poster” (PDF) >

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When working in Agile teams, we want the teams to do usability testing to get quick feedback. This is the most efficient way to make sure we are building the right thing. The Test Canvas can be used to speed up the feedback process and enable more people to learn how to do it and join the process.

This canvas is created based on UX professionals practices and guide anyone through the process in a safe way as well as minimize the time to define and conduct usability testing on a continuous basis – it is perfect for building and scaling the UX capability in many product teams.

Download the test canvas for free as a high-resolution PDF >

Usability testing is qualitative as opposed to a quantitative method

The purpose of usability testing is to observe users and how they solve common user tasks in a prototype or existing service to see if the solution is working well. We want them to talk out loud so we can understand how they think when they use it.  We want to be able to ask them questions so we can better understand their mental models and experience. Since it is a qualitative test where we listen to and look at how users behave and how our service performed it is usually enough to test with 5-8 people. Once you realize nothing new “big” is coming from the tests you know you have reached the limit for what is needed now. But once you have fixed those issues you might test again on new people. You find more information about this in the canvas.

Usability testing can be done on anyone and any user type

Usability testing can be done on anyone and any user type. A user interview on the other hand is something else, that is when we need to learn if the solution solves a specific problem. In that case, we need to validate that on the target group and perhaps someone who is like our users and a specific persona. Often we then need to interview or observe 20 people instead of only 5-8.

Usability testing can be scary at the beginning

Meeting with customers and doing usability testing, in the beginning, can be intimidating. A good way to get started is by creating a safe-to-fail environment by practicing with people you know. Remember, if the team can test on real users once in a while and get valuable feedback, it is so much better than never getting to meet with any users and never getting any validation on what they do. It is also a lot better than only having experts outside of the team, or even worse outside of the organization.

Good methods for usability testing

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Making quick and good enough decisions can many times be difficult. Slow decision-making is one of the biggest problems in many organizations today. Therefore, it might be a good idea to find ways to speed up the decision making process. And, this “Decision-Making Canvas” could be something that helps you in your process.

When working in a fast-paced and complex environment, the trick is to make many smaller decisions based on current facts known at this moment in time. If we wait until we have all the facts, and there are no uncertainties, it will often be either too late – or the first facts will have changed.

Print out this canvas, or use it digitally, and use it as a template for making better and quicker decisions together as a team.

Download the FICA-template (pdf)


Did you like this post? Read more posts on Agile Leadership

>> The 7 Agile Leadership Principles

>> The Agile Leadership Bingo

>> The 7 Conditions for Effective Agile Leadership Teams

>> 5 Common Mistakes when Forming Agile Leadership Teams

>> Starting an Agile Leadership Team

>> How to Form a Team in 10 Minutes

>> The Strategic Leadership Room

>> Agile Management Areas

>> How to Manage the System – Not the People

>> Agile Leadership vs Agile Management

>> Learning Organization – What it is and Why it Matters

>> 7 Prerequisites of a Learning Organization


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Why we do things is the underlying foundation of our motivation and development. And when you work in an organization and in a team you need to feel that the organization’s and team’s purpose, vision, values, and mission is connected to your own foundation. “My leadership canvas” is a way to see if this is aligned and act as guidance in your personal development. 

Download the canvas here

WHY statement

To resonate further with your purpose in everything you do you can start by formulating your own WHY statement. The method is from Simon Sinek’s book “Start with why” where you can get deeper into the significance of starting with why.

To find your WHY statement you can follow these guidelines:

  • Simple and clear
  • Only one sentence
  • Languages ​​that resonate with you
  • Resonate both with work- and private life
  • Write several until you find the right one

As an example, my WHY statement is: “I empower myself and the people around me so we can become the best people that we can be”.

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This is a canvas you can use with your team to visualize some of the key concepts, facts about the team – but it is also a part of the process to build a high performance team to do the activities needed to fill out the canvas with the team. Keep it visual by the team and bring it with you on important team meetings.

Download the Team Canvas for free in high resolution (PDF) >
team canvas 1

Team Name
It is always great for the team spirit to come up with a nice and cool or funny name by them selves, don’t let any one else set it for them.

Purpose or Mission
It is crucial for the team to set a clear mission to enable them to focus and give clarity. It should be in connection with user- and business strategy and it is usually a job for the Product Owner if the team has one. What the team delivers and prioritizes depends on their mission. (more…)

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To be able to stay focused on what really matters you need to have a clear strategy. When companies are small it is not always easy to have a clear strategy and act on it, but it is usually a lot easier than in big companies. To be able to do innovation and also stay customer focused even in big organisations a clear vision and strategy is essential. And every one in the organisation needs to understand the strategy.

There is a research done by Harvard Business School saying only 5% of the employees know about their business strategy. This is really scary for anyone running a business, and something everyone in a position to make strategic decisions needs to take really seriously. If people in the organisation don’t know about, or understand the vision or the strategy, how can they then make tactical and operational smart decisions making the business go in the right direction? There is only one answer to that question, they cant.

A Collaboration and Visualization tool to make Strategy Transparent

This fall I’ve been doing a talk around the topic “Customer Focused with an Agile Mindset” where I talk about how leaders of organizations need to grow an Agile mindset and make a strategic decision to become customer focused to be able to survive in the fast moving complex world of today, and how that can be done. The Innovation Map is one of the slides of my talk and I’ve been getting a lot of great feedback on it. Something many people feel is missing today is a holistic overview of the different strategies the organization have, and to be able to use it in their daily work making sure they are on the right track.

The Innovation Map is a great tool to be able to visualize what strategic initiatives the organisation have, or perhaps don’t have. Also it can be used to visualize the initiatives TOGETHER, ACROSS the organization. In this way when involving more people we can easier see the full picture of where we are going, and what we can do about it. By involving the people working front line with the customers knowing about their needs as well as those that can create the solutions to help the customers and not only management, you grow both an understanding of what the business strategy is – AND – you get their valuable knowledge of what the customer needs are and what can actually be possible to do or not do today and in the future. Then it will be up to management to prioritize the strategy based on different business scenarios.

Download the FREE Innovation Map Now (.pdf)

innovation map

Debt in any level will eat your business

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The online version that you can run in Google Drive via Google Slide.

The speedboat format for retrospectives is something I like a lot and have used with teams or even whole organizations (divided into teams). I find it to be a good way for the team to think individually, and then collaborate and define solutions for their problems through visualization. Visualization helps the team to more easily figure out what problems they should solve them selves, and what problems needs to be solved through collaboration between the teams, and what they need to ask management to help with. Some Agile coaches or Scrum Masters only highlight the negative on retrospectives, I believe it is a great thing to focus on the positive and also help the team take action more easily on real issues. It´s the teams responsibility to handle issues within the team, the Agile Coach/Scrum Masters job is to give them the capabilities to do that (not to do it for them).

Download the speedboat retrospective poster in high resolution (PDF) here >

Download the speedboat retrospective Power Point here (instructions and online retro space)>

Free Mural template for this workshop >speedboat retrospective

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