There can be only "1"

One of the things that has intrigued me about agile teams is the dilemma surrounding agile self-directed teams. There is intent to handle each of your agile teams as autonomous units. I’ll use velocity as an example. We all know that you’re not supposed to aggregate or compare story points across teams. That velocity is essentially unique per team. And to compare them minimally has no value, but it might even drive dysfunctional gaming of velocity and bad behavior within the team.

And that list goes on…

Teams should be allowed to form on their own–to establish their own norms and rules of engagement. They should contribute to their own Definition of Done. They shouldn’t be forced to “commit” to a sprint, but rather “forecast”. And the list goes on….

A big part of the Scrum Master role is helping their team continuously improve and adapt.

But I feel that sometimes it’s good to have teams compare themselves to other teams. Particularly if the other team has a level of maturity that is producing results that literally speak for themselves. I think too often in organizations, we don’t leverage our internal teams and members enough as example of success patterns towards continuous improvement.

In 2012 I wrote an article about this very point. In fact, I took a step further and proposed that you should focus on “finding” a role model agile team as part of your agile adoption. That they don’t have to be “the best of the best”, but simply be a “regular” team in the way you compose them. But look for agile practice adoption maturity, look for teamwork, and look for results. I went on to say, that when you find or establish such a team, that a great next step is to encourage your other teams…to learn from them. Trying to convince everyone to use them as a role model for experiential learning.

Not that you’re trying to create robotic copies nor hold the example team up on a pedestal, but to encourage the organization to understand what they’ve done “that works” and use that as an inspiration for other teams to mature and improve. Why have every team struggle to find “what works”, when you’ve got solid examples of your own to learn from?

You can get a copy of the article .

But my thinking in this area has extended to our clients’ view towards and usage of Velocity Partners teams as just such examples.

Velocity Partners as a “Role Model”

Extending this idea, I wish our clients would more often leverage our Velocity Partners teams (and individual team members) as role models. For example:

  • We’ve been practicing a wide variety of Agile Methods (Extreme Programming, Scrum, Kanban, and variations) since the very beginning of our firm.
  • We don’t just “Talk the Talk”, we “Walk the Walk” regarding agility in our culture. Come visit our development centers and see.
  • Many of our team members have been with us for a long time (see this post on our attrition). Point is – they’ve been working with multiple clients on multiple projects with widely varied experiences.
  • Often our colleagues want to influence the customer, but there is a fine line and many don’t want to be considered pushy or extreme when it comes to agile approaches.

But there is often an untapped reservoir of experience, tactics, and lessons learned that our teams quite naturally bring to the table in each of our engagements.

Wrapping Up

So I want to encourage our current (and future) clients to consider looking at Velocity Partners differently. Not simply looking at us as an outsourcing or nearshoring partner. Yes, we are those things. But I’d wager that that is only scratching the surface of our value proposition.

Then we bring really solid agile experience into play–experience that is deep, wide, and varied. We’ve literally have team members who’ve “been there and done that” many times in agile projects. You essentially get this experience — for free — when you engage us.

But there’s a but.

You have to be open to learning from our teams. To listening, to asking their opinions, to engaging them as true partners and merging their recommendations within your own teams.

If you do this, they can become part of “your 1 team” and serve as examples to accelerate your agile adoption and evolution. Examples that are capable of driving you towards the fantastic results that are a part of high-performing agile teams. But the choice is yours…

Stay agile my friends,




Bob Galen

Bob Galen

Bob Galen is an Agile Methodologist, Practitioner & Coach based in Cary, NC. In this role he helps guide companies and teams in their pragmatic adoption and organizational shift towards Scrum and other agile methodologies and practices. Contact: [email protected]

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