Category: Team approaches

Why can’t we all just get along? (again)

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Back in November last year I wrote up a talk I gave at Lean Agile Brighton called Why can’t we all just get along?

I’ve given the talk at a few more conferences and written it up as an article on InfoQ called Bridging Silos and Overcoming Collaboration Antipatterns in Multidisciplinary Organisations. The most recent time I spoke about it was at Seacon in London, and that 20-minute talk is here; enjoy!

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Why can’t we all just get along?

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I initially gave this talk at Lead Agile Brighton in October 2022, then updated and refined the slide deck for Agile Manchester in May 2023, so I’ve updated this post too.

I’ve noticed an increasingly worrying trend in the industry of focus on specialisms at the expense of collaboration, shared responsibility and valuable outcomes.

There might be many reasons for this, from organisational structures, changing workforces or uncertainty in the world. However, this trend can create silos across departments, between roles, and even in teams.

These silos mean that all the value from a multidisciplinary team is lost, people get pigeonholed, and we lose focus on creating valuable outcomes for our users.

In this post, I will explore this trend, some reasons we might be seeing it, and some approaches and techniques to break those silos down to work together.

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Why I’m going to stop saying agile ceremonies

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Many people use the term “Agile ceremonies” as a collective term for activities like standups, retrospectives, reviews and planning.

I’ve always felt uncomfortable with the word “ceremony” in this context. It’s never sat well with me and I don’t like using it with people who are new to agile ways of working.

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The team collaboration party game

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I recently put a workshop together to take a new team through to help describe some important agile concepts including the benefits of working collaboratively and swarming on tasks; the value of communication; how to self-organise; how limiting work in progress achieves more value and what we mean by T-shaped teams.

The workshop itself was a lot of fun and left us with a bunch of balloons and sweets to share with our colleagues(which can’t be a bad thing), as well as a good grasp of the concepts above.

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The 4 Ps of effective standups

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This is a quick blog post with some tips for effective stand-ups that a friend asked me to write so he could share it with someone else. So here it is Mark.

These 4Ps came to life when I was working with Amy Wagner creating and delivering some training in Brussels. The training was intended to help a team get better at the way they worked together and stand-ups were an area that needed attention. This isn’t uncommon for digital teams, they may be having regular stand-ups, but the real value can sometimes get lost.

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Tips for using Trello effectively

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I’ve been using Trello for a few years, both for personal projects and with teams. I love how simple it is to use, which makes it easy to use in the way that works for you. The downside of this is that some teams struggle with knowing where to start, this post is about showing you how the team I’m with at Defra currently uses it.

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The Team Onion. How many pizzas does it really take to feed your team?

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The Team Onion now has a new home at teamonion.works

**UPDATE** The Agile Team Onion is now the Team Onion, same model slightly new name. Because you don’t need to be an agile team to use it.

I’ve recently been playing with ways of explaining the extended team for large and largeish organisations. I get frustrated when I see Agile teams that are essentially siloed off from the wider business (for many reasons). This causes dependency and communication issues and means they just aren’t able to deliver anything very quickly. I don’t think the answer is just to throw everyone in together as it’s not always that practical and can cause its own communication issues as the team gets really big. I’ve been using the team onion to describe a model of how it might work.

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