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"Teambuilding" for agile Teams: About the courage, NOT do understand Team Dynamics.

"Agile" Project Management is one of the recent buzzwords. And it has a lot in common with SF (see Solution Focused Agility in Projects and Management)

One of the four "values" of agility is:
"Individuals and interactions over processes and tools"
Indeed: working together in a project as a self-competent and self-organized team is very typical for all agile frameworks like, e.g., "Scrum".

But: How to "build" such teams?

A lot of models and theories explain, how individuals and teams are "working": Personality typologies (e.g. Myers-Briggs-typindicator), team-dynamics (e.g. Tuckman model), and interaction models (e.g. transactional analysis). Is it necessary to understand such theories and models to build and moderate teams? In my experience: no.

How to build up teams and to moderate teamwork based on "not wanting to understand" such theories and models?

My approach:
I accept teams as complex social systems - and the behavior of complex systems is not predictable (see e.g. the Cynefin-framework by David Snowden). So, it is less helpful to derive the future effects of our actions in complex systems from models and theories. But: To build a team I, as a moderator, can offer conditions to support individuals to decide themselves to work together as a team. A useful support is, to discuss the following three aspects (see Gunther Schmidt, "Hypno-systemische Teamentwicklung", in: „Lernende Organisation“, Juli / August 2001) and make them transparent:
  • The members of the team share a basic common agreement about the "sense" of the team
  • Each member has an individual and relevant benefit from the membership in the team
  • Each member is convinced, that this benefit can be obtained in the best way within this team and not alone or elsewhere

To clarify this three aspects and to moderate other discussions in the team for the moderator this attitudes are helpful:

==> Instead of wanting to know and understand the "team mechanic" better recognize unbiased and curiously all what works (reasonably) well - to sustain and empower it.

==> What happens now is exactly what has to happen now: Handle unexpected spontaneous interactions in the team not as "disturbances" but as topics which in THIS moment are senseful and necessary. And if I as the moderator cannot see the sense or necessity I ask the team members to make it clear for me.

==> Not to see what should happen based on a model or a theory but to see all what happens: Observing and acting based on theories and models entraps to shift and reduce the observations turning the observation to a verification of the theory and model taken as basis: "John is an alpha - now he showed it again!"

==> Teams and their participating individuals develop themselves in day-to-day work, not in teambuilding events: "Team building exercises sent colleagues whitewater rafting together, but when they returned home, they still disagreed fundamentally about business problems" Peter Senge wrote in his book "The Fifth Discipline".

The art of "teambuilding by day-to-day work" means for the moderator to focus on the meaningfulness and on the success of the teamwork.

How does this looks like in practice?

At the ==> Scrum Breakfast at Zürich, 4. Feb 2009 I will present some tips and tools, for instance:
  • SF-modifications of the "three questions" in the "Daily Scrum"
  • "Burn down charts" - turned around to make them more SF
  • Focus on resources, not on impediments only

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Comment by Monika Houck on January 25, 2009 at 8:05
Hello Hans-Peter.
Am impressed. Will study your thoughts..
Monika

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