Facilitation & Collaboration

Agile Framework and Mindset

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Overview

Agile teams are self-organizing and empowered to decide how to deliver to the product vision. Strong collaboration within and across teams supports the visibility, communication and healthy culture that is needed for Agile teams to perform and deliver.

Facilitation is essential as teams come together to solve problems, so that the time spent is productive, collaborative and leads to quality results. Effective facilitators plan ahead to establish the meeting purpose, participants and agenda, stay neutral as they serve the team, guide the team through information gathering, convergence and decision-making with time-saving processes, manage dysfunction and ensure full participation and consensus from everyone on the team.

Collaborative Solutions

The core Agile principles are centered around individuals interacting and working together to solve problems:

  • Motivated teams are given the environment and support they need and trusted to get the job done
  • Cross-functional teams share collective responsibility for results
  • Business people and developers (the team) must work together daily throughout the project
  • The most effective and efficient method of conveying information to and within the team is face to face conversation. When the team cannot be co-located, they must be provided with effective tools to support constant communication and collaboration.

Teams add more value than individual contributions do. Some problems are complex and no one person has all of the experience, insight, knowledge or resources.

Team Norms

To work together effectively and avoid unnecessary conflict, it is important to establish team norms and working agreements. These agreements are established and enforced within the team and are reviewed and updated as needed to maintain healthy team dynamics.

Questions to Answer when Establishing Norms

  • How do we make decisions?
  • How do we respond to conflicts?
  • How do we handle impediments?
  • How do we improve our processes?
  • How do we manage our work?
  • How do we communicate with each other?
  • How do we run our meetings?
  • How do we help each other and have fun?

Resolving Conflict

Every conflict is an opportunity for the team members involved to grow and learn from the situation. They can learn to collaborate and find inclusive solutions or they can learn to create win-lose solutions, which cause damage to team dynamics and morale. It really is less about the conflict itself and much more about HOW it was resolved and if the team members learned from this growth experience. For more information on Conflict Resolution, review Conflict Resolution Techniques.

Agile Meetings

Agile meetings are time-boxed, collaborative, include the right participants, focus on a defined purpose and accomplish specific deliverables.

Common Agile Meetings:

  • Project/Release Kickoff & Visioning Meeting
  • Backlog Creation – Story Writing Meeting
  • Release Planning & Estimating Meeting
  • Iteration 0 Planning Meeting
  • Story Elaboration – Iteration Pre-Planning
  • Sprint/Iteration Planning Meeting
  • Daily Standup Meeting
  • Backlog Grooming Meeting
  • Sprint Review/Demo Meeting
  • Sprint Retrospective Meeting

See Agile Meetings Cheat Sheets for more information on the purpose, attendees, duration, deliverables and sample agendas for these meetings.

Must Haves for Effective Meetings

Planning

  • Meeting purpose has been identified and process has been designed
  • All necessary meeting participants are invited
  • The seating is effective for collaboration
  • Meeting handouts, flip charts, markers, projector… etc are ready

Execution

  • Meeting purpose, agenda, roles and ground rules are presented and agreed upon upfront
  • The meeting has a skilled facilitator to keep the team on track
  •  All the main decisions, ideas, follow up items and assignments are recorded visibly
  • Establishing meeting start/end/break times and following them

Closing

  • Getting the group and sponsor feedback at closing
  •  All meeting notes are sent to participants after meeting closure

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