Starting an Agile Team Off on the Right Foot

Photo by tableatny

Photo by tableatny

Whether the team is existing but new to agile, newly formed, or kicking off a new project, it's important that the team gets started well.  In fact, according to research, 30% of a team's effectiveness can be attributed to the way the team is launched!  Many organizations use an Iteration Zero for the team to create/groom its backlog, set up environments and tools, and do other prep work that may be needed for the project--too often the team is trying to predict too many of its future needs, and the time spent in Iteration Zero is a waste.  Iteration Zero should be avoided.

Rather than declare an Iteration Zero, I suggest having a kick-off workshop to review agile and scrum (games like Herculean Doughnut are good for teams already using scrum), understand the project vision and the backlog, get to know the team members (this is especially important if team members are not co-located throughout the project), and establish or revisit working agreements.  Admittedly, I am working in an organization where these kick-off workshops are part of an Iteration Zero that can last up to 2 weeks, but I have found that the workshop is the part that provides the most value.  If your organization is at a stage where Iteration Zero is required, then make Iteration Zero work for you.

Allison Pollard

I help people discover their agile instincts and develop their coaching abilities. As an agile coach with Improving in Dallas, I enjoy mentoring others to become great Scrum Masters, coaching managers to grow teams that deliver amazing results, and fostering communities that provide sustainability for agile transformations. In my experience, applying agile methods improves delivery, strengthens relationships, and builds trust between business and IT. A big believer in the power of community-based learning, I grew the DFW Scrum user group significantly over the five years I served as an organizer. I am also a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach, a foodie, and proud glasses wearer.