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Should my team be “mature”? by Arkadiusz Ostrycharz

Should my team be “mature”? by Arkadiusz Ostrycharz

If you want to say yes then I would like to ask you what is mature? Does that mean that team is efficient? Output is predictable? Or maybe mood is always good?

Arkadiusz Ostrycharz is CTO of MoreFromIT.com and is an agile enthusiast interested in blockchain technology.

For years software managers tried to check how the teams are doing, how they are changing and how those changes affect certain areas like speed of development or teamwork. All those researches resulted in dozens of maturity models used with different luck by smaller and bigger organizations, but as far as I am concerned, none of them is a silver bullet.

From my personal experience as a scrum master I would say that team should just never stagnate. Perception of different topics from outside and inside of the group should evolve over time. Maturity is something that is really hard to grasp. I had stable, mature teams that were really hard to work with. People were against any changes even if they could improve their work. On the contrary I had those immature, young teams that acted professionally in almost any case.

Because of this I do not like patronizing teams. Saying that one team is more mature than other does not serve any purpose. Just like a story point, each group should be defined and treated differently.

Don't get me wrong, it is not only about making things less harmful or scary for the fragile egos of developers. They are stronger than you think! There is simply no objective way to measure social dynamics in different groups and score it.

Still we should have something, right? Some kind of grasp on the team mood, the perspective broader than a retrospective or projects post-mortem. Something more focused on the team. I was struggling with this concept until one of my former colleagues told us about Squad Health Check.

As many other agile ideas, Squad Health Check is the original concept of agile enthusiasts from Spotify. The idea is simple - just meet with your team once a quarter and ask ten questions regarding how they feel about certain topics. It's fully subjective. It's short. But what is really important it gives you a great opportunity to make a snapshot of the current mood inside your team. Of course you can compare results to the previous health check and see in which direction overall sentiments are going, but what is even more important, you have great opportunity to actually discuss with people and understand their current perception of things. You gain the possibility to react and facilitate the change in an efficient way.

After running health checks for almost two years I was really amazed how much insightful conclusions group can have after short meetings like those. What our team can do in order to improve speed of development? Are we players or pawns? Are we working good together?

Simple questions pretty often are the most important ones and they lead to true development. Just remember to ask them regularly and keep in mind that the final goal is a stable, healthy team. Do not try to compare different teams based on the Squad Health Check results. Try to help each group to improve their internal communication and well-being. At the end effectiveness is just natural result of tranquility.

Read more about this model here. If you want to try it with your remote team I highly recommend small tool created by me (and yes, it's free :)).

Arkadiusz Ostrycharz


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