Situation

An Agile team is like a team of basket ball players and their project sprints are like games – they are all about effective collaboration to win the championship.
Imagine a team of ace performers; individually, each one is a great player but what about collective genius? How do we ensure that the ace players are connected to the larger goal of winning the series championship?
Achieving success is not going to be easy. We have to learn to respect our differences and work closely as a team when there is a larger goal in sight. This is highly relevant to Agile Mind-set where the cross-functional teams should indeed collaborate well.

Name and Description-  Put the ball in the basket!

Basket ball

Basketball is one of my favorite sports, and I used to play with friends at school quite often. I was taking a trip down nostalgia lane when I remembered how our team once made it to the finals in an interschool competition. But we had a big fight the day before when our coach selected another person to be the captain. There was a war of words that followed, and everyone began to lose confidence in the team. I remember going to bed with a sense of fear and guilt.

After many years, I had the discomfort of recalling this memory during a retrospective as I saw that individual team members were trying hard to put the ball in the basket on their own, without keeping the entire team in mind. That mentality does not prove useful in the long run because team members lose focus of the big picture and move farther and farther away from it. However, the same memory from school provided a solution to the problem.

The day of the basketball finals, my team stepped onto the court not knowing what to anticipate. Once the game started, it was refreshingly positive to see that in spite of the bitterness from last night, the team coordinated perfectly—and we went on to win!

When I remembered this during the retrospective, the answer hit me like a ton of bricks. Achieving success is not going to be easy. We have to learn to respect our differences and work closely as a team when there is a larger goal in sight. Agile and DevOps teams especially need to remember this, because cross-functional teams must collaborate well.

I went on to apply this valuable lesson into one of the team exercises. The team was given a task of brainstorming bottlenecks to a shared goal. Each of the members had to debate and oppose each other’s ideas to reach a common goal at the end. Bringing different perspectives to the foreground worked well.

During the retrospective, I drew the picture above and told the team that the first scenario depicted is the individual team members trying to focus on their own goals, which will prevent them from meeting the team goal. You have to think of the shared team goal and think of things to do so that the team can move from the situation on the left to the collaboration on the right. Asking the team to think of what they can do to win the game caught everyone’s attention and made the retrospective very lively and engaging.

Material

Large white board or a large piece of poster paper. Three colors of sticky notes and markers.

Instructions

Draw the above picture . The first scenario depicts individual team members or functions trying to focus on their own goals which will not always let them meet the team goal. Ask your team to think of the shared team goal, note down the points that can potentially lead towards the second scenario of the picture. Instruct your team to brainstorm all the bottlenecks and think of things to do so that they can move from left to right.

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