On the fifth day of blogmas a community member sent to you their FIIIIVE TOP TIPS for team agility!

Welcome reader,

Hopefully, unlike me, you are not already stuffed full of mince pies, eggnog lattes and on your 27th viewing of Elf. As we go into the new year, now is a great time to reflect and make small changes that should give you months of pure joy during 2019 in your work.

When I was asked to contribute, I realised I owed so much to this community for their help and support over the last year (especially at WeCamp) that the only way I could ever hope of repaying that back is by paying it forward.

So without further ado, allow me to share the most common problems I come across in organisations and teams as an Agile Coach and offer you some approaches you can experiment with (and I have used) to help improve your processes and team joy. Think of all of this as homework over the festive season. Yes, it is the post that keeps on giving.

Stop Starting Start Finishing

If I got paid everytime I saw individuals assigning work to themselves instead of working to keep the amount of work in process as a team low. I’m pretty sure I could have retired by now.

It may seem counterintuitive to do less to go faster, but you gain in terms of quality and no rework on defects, which leads to delighting your customer first time everytime.

Here are the books that cover this in more detail, I keep them in order of preference, however if you’re not in software development then switch A and B as it will may be easier to relate more, or you know, do what you want, i’m not the boss of you.

Focus on smaller deliverable chunks of work and keep asking what is the value and what is the goal and you’ll be on the right approach.

  • The Phoenix Project
  • The Goal
  • The Toyota Way
  • Mythical Man Month


You are not an island, you should be working on building those relationships with others, in your team and community. These are the people who can give you guidance when you need it the most.

Mob or Pair Program with your colleagues and invite others from across the business into the mix, tis the season of goodwill. Open your work to them and you will be amazed at the useful information you get back, nothing brings me more satisfaction than seeing a novice understand your world for the first time, don’t miss out on those moments.

By opening up and having a meaningful discussion on approaches or techniques, you start to build trust and can move on to meaningful experiments, teams who do less of this are often struggling with perception issues. I find being as open and visible as possible allowing constructive critique negates this and often people outside the team will move blockers and impediments for you.

The second tip here is to tell stories. “User story mapping – Jeff Patton” and “Example mapping” are great techniques to discover the unknown about work yet to be done. In here Cynefin and Clean Language can also help as techniques to help break down the complicated into simpler deliverable pieces. See how much you can discover about these tools and then go and share with the community what you’ve learned.

Seek feedback

No, don’t just seek, embrace feedback. I don’t see teams challenge themselves to improve often enough, that stale Definition of Done, team values or other parts of the process are not reviewed often and opportunities to improve or check in with each other are missed.

Start from where you are, create mini experiments that you all can agree to try, think scientific method, from here make it visible on the wall if possible, so you are all constantly working to prove or disprove the experiment and you can see the progress being made.

All of this starts to allow the team to view themselves from the outside in and become comfortable with the feedback. In turn, once comfortable, you can begin the process of being more honest about areas for improvement and this leads to effortless continuous improvement indefinitely and helps the team change and adapt when members leave or outside influences asserts pressure on the team.

Look after yourself

Don’t burn out, this is the toughest tip, you are on a journey and work will get tough for various reasons, agree as a team how you can support each other and tie this back to team or company values. Speak to your HR or People department who will only enthusiastically help create support networks within organisations. If any knows of the right way to do this outside the UK then please feedback.

If you are a line manager then maybe some of the following will allow you to help and enable others. Here are some tools I like that focus on the person and keeps you in a listening state of mind.

The Coaching Habit by Michael Bungay Stainer is a great place to start, follow this up with Clean language questions to help you focus on what the other person has said without reinterpretation.

That being said, the simplest thing, is to change the environment you are in by going for a walk or a coffee and just talk, that may be more than enough for the person in that moment. This is what I wish I could teach all leaders.

Have Fun

It’s Christmaaaasssssssssss 🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉

Celebrate your strengths as a team, Improve your retros by playing Retros against Humanity, board games, team lunches and chatting, Exploding Kittens, quizzes and any manner of entertainment that introverts and extroverts can enjoy, also for more formal retros look here other fun ideas (http://www.funretrospectives.com).

To be honest most of my job is looking for opportunities to play games with people which means I need to be open and honest about what I like so I can find out what others like, I am yet to find a team ready for the hungry hungry hippos tournament I want to run, although in my new role, I have been given a team who do team lunches and board games every week and I look forward to this day the most.

You are in this together so have fun and look after each other.

Then tell the community about that one great thing you did and really helped.

I wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!