A crucial aspect of Agile development is the formation of stable teams. This article explores the importance of stable teams in Agile development and how the Tuckman model offers a valuable framework for understanding and fostering team development.
Why Stable Teams are Important
The formation of a team comes with costs in terms of time and resources. It takes a considerable amount of effort for a team to become high-functioning and efficient. The Tuckman Model, which includes the stages of forming, storming, norming, performing, and adjourning, illustrates the natural progression that teams go through as they work together. As a team moves through these stages, they build trust, establish processes, and develop a shared understanding of their goals and how to achieve them.
Once a team has reached the performing stage and becomes highly effective, it is more advantageous to utilize the same group of people on new work instead of creating a new team around each new effort. By leveraging the power of stable teams, organizations can reduce the costs associated with team formation, minimize the impact of learning curves, and maintain the strong relationships and effective processes that have been established within the team.
Stable teams provide a solid foundation for predictability and reliability in delivering high-quality work. When team members work together consistently, they develop a deep understanding of each other’s strengths, weaknesses, and working styles. This familiarity leads to improved communication, collaboration, and overall efficiency. Additionally, stable teams help reduce the risk of knowledge loss due to team member turnover or reassignment, preserving the team’s collective expertise and experience.
How to Use the Stable Teams Pattern
To make the most of stable teams, focus on bringing new work to the team instead of creating a new team for each new effort. By doing so, you can capitalize on the established relationships, processes, and expertise within the existing team, ultimately increasing efficiency and productivity.
When introducing new work to a stable team, follow these steps:
- Prioritize the backlog: Work with the Product Owner to prioritize new epics and tasks within the team’s existing backlog, ensuring that the most important and valuable work is addressed first.
- Communicate the new work: Clearly communicate the new tasks or epics to the team, discussing the goals, requirements, and any necessary context. This allows the team to understand the importance of the new work and how it fits within the overall product roadmap.
- Adapt processes as needed: While stable teams have established processes in place, it’s essential to remain flexible and adapt to the requirements of the new work. If necessary, make adjustments to the team’s processes or workflows to accommodate the new tasks or epics.
- Monitor progress: Regularly review the team’s progress on the new work, using metrics and feedback from team members to gauge performance and identify any areas for improvement.
By integrating new work into a stable team’s backlog, organizations can harness the power of established, high-performing teams to tackle new challenges more effectively and efficiently. This approach not only maximizes productivity but also fosters a sense of continuity and commitment among team members.
Stable teams are a valuable asset in any organization, as they offer a solid foundation for efficient and effective work. By prioritizing the development and maintenance of stable teams, organizations can reap the benefits of improved communication, streamlined processes, and enhanced performance. Integrating the Tuckman model into the development of stable teams ensures that teams pass through the necessary stages of forming, storming, norming, and performing to reach their full potential.
By focusing on bringing new work to stable teams rather than creating new teams for each project, organizations can make the most of their resources and minimize the time-consuming and costly process of team formation. This approach not only leads to higher productivity and better results but also fosters a sense of continuity, commitment, and ownership among team members. Ultimately, stable teams can serve as the driving force behind organizational success, helping to deliver outstanding products and services in a competitive market.
Fred Brooks. The Mythical Man Month. Reading, MA. Addison Wesley, 1975 and 1995, p. 25.
Diane Coutu. “Why Teams Don’t Work.ˮ In Harvard Business Review 87(5), May 2009, https://hbr.org/2009/05/why-teams-dont-work (accessed 2 November 2017).
Steve W. J. Kozlowski and Daniel R. Ilgen. “Enhancing the Effectiveness of Work Groups and Teams.ˮ In Psychological Science in the Public Interest 7(3), 2006, pp. 77–124.
M. Lance Frazier, Stav Fainshmidt, Ryan L. Klinger, Amir Pezeshkan and Veselina Vracheva. “Psychological Safety: A Meta-Analytic Review and Extension.ˮ In Personnel Psychology 70, 2017 pp. 113–165.
Tuckman, B. W. (1965). Developmental sequence in small groups. Psychological Bulletin, 63(6), 384-399.