Agile Coach reveals her five key principles

At the Swansea Software Development MeetUp, Georgina Hopkinson, Agile Coach at DevOpsGuys, took the community through her five “key principles” for creating high performing, functional, agile teams.

According to Hopkinson: “We see the agile manifesto, scrum framework and articles saying how amazing agile is, but a lot of people aren’t sure how to work in this way, feeling that as soon as you miss that train, it’s hard to get on.”

It is often said that scrum is a simple framework, but complex to adopt. Georgina believes that although agile appears a complex beast, it is, in fact, a lot simpler than what meets the eye, and there are lots of baby steps teams can take, in order to create agility within their teams.

She uses the acronym TREAT (Transparency, Reconnect, Experiment, Autonomy, Trust) to break down the crucial components that form truly agile teams, and believes these are effective; even if your organisation isn’t on board yet.

Transparency

Transparency is critical to the success of organisations and groups adopting agile. Transparency helps to promote openness and honesty within teams and organisations. A lack of transparency can have an array of negative effects including demotivated teams.

“Transparency is key to building a strong team relationship. It’s up to you what you decide to make transparent. Is it that you want leaders to know you’re doing well? If so, get your ‘key achievements’ up on the wall, this will help senior leaders see what you’re great at, and help to increase motivation,” she said while referring to Gandhi as a truly transparent role model, someone who has echoed his beliefs in all that he did and said.

“You need to be open and honest. It’s important that teams understand the objectives of the organisation if you want them to be committed to helping to achieve this. The best way to inspire transparency is to be transparent yourself. If you think about politicians, they document everything because what they say, think and do are all very different. You don’t want to be like this.”

Reconnect

To be agile is to work in effortless correlation with your teams, in order to become highly functional. “It’s important you connect on a deeper level with your teams. You need to get to know how the people work in your teams and this can take time. A first step to doing this can be something as simple as having breakfast together and learning about each other’s responsibilities outside of work,” continued Hopkinson.

“If you want to be a functional team, you need to connect. Often senior leaders misconstrue a team’s agreement to deliver something, as a buy-in for the end result. It’s essential that you listen to your teams, and empower them to contribute to decision making if you want them to be committed to the final decision.”

Experiment

Since there is no one way to succeed in agile, you must practice and experiment agility. Exploring experimentation is the only way to find the solution that works for you, and what fits for a product.

“Experimentation is key if you want to stay ahead of the market. You need to try new things… if we didn’t have experimentation we wouldn’t have things like internet banking, Google or YouTube. It doesn’t even have to be a technological experiment, you need to start experimenting with your teams, for example, what effect does having breakfast every day as a team has on the overall team dynamic?” she revealed.

Autonomy

Autonomy is the capacity to make an informed, un-coerced decision. Your leaders may set the direction of where they want to get to, but teams need the autonomy to collaborate on how they will get there. You need to respect and empower your teams!

“15-minute round-the-room at the end of meetings is a great first step to showing teams that their voice matters,” Hopkinson advised. “If you look at the agile manifesto it’s all about people, and you need to make sure your people are motivated. We live in a nation full of ‘knowledge workers’, which basically means we’re hired to have ideas and opinions.”

Trust

Trust is essential if you want to speed up change and decrease the cost. She also believes that trust is something you can build. The first step towards this is to trust yourself when you tell yourself you’re going to do something, do it!

We’re generally told by our organisations what our values should be. Georgina urges everyone to have a think about what his or her true values are, and then use these values to motivate everything that you do. She said you should “breathe your intent – make sure you make it clear what changes you are intending on. Understand what you’re good at, and what you’re not.”

She also noted that although it’s important that you operate on your ethics and morals, another thing people would look at when deciding whether or not to trust you is your results. So here’s another reason to get those key achievements up on the wall!

Written by Leah Alger

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