Our tech series continues with a new insight dedicated to all the Agile newcomers who want to understand what is all that “noise” around the agile methodologies and maybe speed up their decision to go agile

First thing’s first: understanding Agile must start with the understanding of what teamwork is. Let’s take Merriam-Webster‘s definition: “work done by several associates with each doing a part but all subordinating personal prominence to the efficiency of the whole”. We can agree on this, but the next question is: what is a successful teamwork? And here we can see a number of different interpretations, often very subjective, that depend on the team goals, team member’s personalities and capabilities, strengths and weaknesses. As perfectly explained by Bal Mahale in his article “Teamwork in Agile“, there are three types of teamwork:

“a non-cooperation, cooperation or collaboration. People sometimes find themselves in non-cooperation mode due to differences in opinions or a lack of communication. This results in teams working against each other or doing redundant work. People operate in cooperation mode when they divide the responsibilities and identify touch points . In mathematical terms this is similar to 1 + 1 = 2. It means they are doing what is expected of each of the roles, but nothing beyond. People work in collaboration mode when they build off each other’s strengths and knowledge to create something that is exceptional and beyond their individual abilities. In mathematical terms this is similar to 1 + 1 > 2. This mode involves a lot of negotiating, challenging assumptions, and learning/building on each other’s perspectives.”

This last point is what Agile is all about:  collaboration – it helps people from different backgrounds work together in a self-managed, empowered team, where all obstacles and barriers naturally disappear. Scrum, as one of agile methodologies, is actually the art of creating a harmonious teamwork.

Scrum is a flexible working methodology, with the exceptional power to be adapted to a specific needs of different teams and goals. It works best in the dynamic companies, where client’s needs have a great impact on how teams function.

In the words of Scrum creators, Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland,

Scrum (n): A framework within which people can address complex adaptive problems, while productively and creatively delivering products of the highest possible value.

Their Scrum guide describes it as “Lightweight, Simple to understand, Difficult to master”, and points out that it’s not a process or a technique for building products; rather, it is a framework within which you can employ various processes and techniques.

One of it’s main characteristics is that it splits the project into smaller segments, allowing the team to work on independent tasks, where all the team members have precisely defined roles. The team has a complete ownership and responsibility for the project, which alleviates the sense of insignificance that some employees might feel working in a team. This could never happen with Scrum because each team member has a defined role and works together with other team mates for a shared goal.

If you recognized a potential in this methodology and you feel like it might help you, go for it! Be sure to follow these simple steps as initial guide in reorganizing your team work.


For more information on Agile be sure to check out other related articles on our Blog or these external resources:

Scrum guide – The Definitive Guide to Scrum: The Rules of the Game

Kanban and Scrum – making the most of both

Scrum and XP from the Trenches

Are You a Scrumbag? Don’t Worry – It’s a Good Thing: Use Scrum to Fuel Your Success