The Ingredients of a Winning Agile Team
What makes a winning Agile Team?

Since scrum is built on the principle of self-organizing and where experimentation is encouraged among team members, scrum teams often progress through their group development models quicker than more of the traditional types of teams. Team effectiveness is enhanced by a team's commitment to reflecting on accomplishments and continued evaluation of meeting specific goals throughout their projects. In time, teams will become high-performing once they understand their developmental role within their team.

Let’s look at the creator of the Agile Team Development framework that we will be using for our ingredients to build a winning team.

Bruce W. Tuckerman (1938-2016)
Origins of our ingredients we will be discussing today:

In 1965, a psychologist by the name of Bruce Wayne Tuckman published his theory of group dynamics. In his theory, it describes the stages of Forming, Storming, Norming, and Performing, which a team moves through to get to the most optimal productivity as a team. The team will move through each stage as they overcome challenges, learn to work together, and focus on accomplishing a shared goal. This framework has been generally useful for many organizations but it has been found to be especially very useful within Agile development practices. This is where our winning team comes in by using his theory of Forming, Storming, Norming, and Performing framework in our everyday teams. 

List of Ingredients for a winning Agile team:

Each phase of Forming, Storming, Norming, and Performing, or FSNP, describes the different dynamics that teams can expect to experience as a team works its way through a project. If a team works through the phases properly, the results will be a successful project at completion. Tuckman's model is flexible when teams are following the model throughout their project. Some teams will bounce back and forth between some of the stages as necessary. For example, if a new member joins the team, they will go back to the forming stage and so on.

Ingredient: Forming
  • Teams may be motivated but are usually relatively uninformed of the issues and objectives of the team. 
  • The team is excited, curious, and maybe a little nervous.
  • Discussion centers on defining the scope of the tasks at hand, how to approach them, and similar concerns.
  • Getting comfortable with the team leads to connections, and connections pull people out of their individualistic attitudes.
Ingredient: Storming
  • The team will start to form opinions about the character and integrity of others on the team and may feel compelled to voice these opinions if they find someone is lacking responsibility or attempting to dominate others.  
  • Traits of Storming include: resistance, lack of participation, conflict related to differences of feelings and opinions, competition between team members, high emotions, etc
  • Once the team can work through the storming stage together, they will start to move towards normalization within the group's dynamics.
Ingredient: Norming
  • When the team realizes they all share a common goal, it will bring in a type of normalization within the team.
  • Team members start to accept others as they are and will begin to move on from past conflicts.
  • The team begins to experience a sense of group belonging and a feeling of relief from resolving interpersonal conflicts.
Ingredient: Performing
  • Team roles may have become more fluid, with members taking on various roles and responsibilities as needed
  • Team members are more focused on achieving common goals, often reaching an unexpectedly high level of success.
  • Members start to feel attached to the team as something greater and feel satisfaction in the team's effectiveness.
Additional Ingredient: Adjourning
  • Added in 1977 by Tuckerman, jointly with Mary Ann Jensen
  • Shift to process orientation, some experienced a sense of sadness due to the completion of the project.
  • Providing an opportunity for individual acknowledgments and celebrating the team's accomplishments.
Now that we have all the ingredients together, let’s have a final review:
  • Forming: Each member of the team figures out what their role and responsibilities will be for the project. The team will start to review the project tasks and start to develop plans for development. Establish relationships within the group.
  • Storming: Teams must create an environment of trust and collaborate with others so they can communicate and learn to work together. They must voice their opinions and move forward as a team to identify and resolve any conflicts that may arise.
  • Norming: Once they get to this phase, the group norms and roles have been established so that group members can focus on achieving common goals. This is the phase that teams will often reach an unexpectedly high level of success, once the team normalizes.
  • Performing: The team is competent, autonomous, and able to handle the decision-making process without supervision. Objections are expected and allowed as long as it's channeled through means of acceptance by the team.
  • Adjouring: Completion of the project and team members moving on to other teams. The process repeats itself. This phase is also composed of things like lessons learned, retrospectives, and team/individual achievements.
Mix your ingredients and bake usually for 4-12 months (avg timeframe)

Think back to some of your current and previous projects to see if you can identify any of these stages and how you felt during each one. All of us have been through these stages working in our Agile development teams, even if you knew it or not. We all understand things in our very own unique way based on our past experiences and what we know now. The stages of team development are no different. Now that you are aware of these stages, I hope it helps everyone to understand each other better so that we are all more understanding, efficient, and productive on our projects.