Daily stand-ups to sharpen focus
Irina Levotchkina, a Software Engineering Team Lead, put forward her experience with this cornerstone agile practice:
“My first introduction to Agile started with daily stand-ups and immediately I noticed that it added structure to my day. I also started having a better picture about what my teammates were up to. To this day as soon as I hear the word Agile I immediately think of stand-ups.”
When we first went remote, it was slightly challenging to adjust and some teams decided to run stand-up twice a day to stay connected and give support to each other. It may seem simple, but it’s a connective practice that seeds so many collaborative opportunities.
Stand-up defines focus for the day. We hear what other people are working on and get context for tickets we’re interested in. It’s an opportunity to ask for help and discuss pairing options, make any announcements, share critical news and sometimes just chat about the weekend!
Empowering teams to make decisions
When it comes to making decisions for the team, we try to instill trust and autonomy. This helps assure that we’re not always deferring to leads, especially when they may not always be available. Our Engagement Team created a rather simple process to eliminate this bottleneck. Team lead Jae Pil Kim explains:
“We’ve instilled a Three-Way Decision process which allows my team to move quickly as decisions could be made promptly. The rest of the team members can then catch up any time that is convenient for them. Another bonus is that we can reference past decisions to realign our focus, when the inevitable derailing hits the team.”
The rules are pretty simple. When you have a decision to make, invite any two additional members of the team to discuss and decide. Then capture the background and decision in the team’s decision log Slack channel. This solution may not work for every team but with a mature team culture it can boost confidence and trust.
Appropriately, the last item to share is a retrospective. These health check meetings inform our teams if everything we’re doing is actually working. This is critical for any team irrespective of industry or remote work, as one of our principal engineers, Tim Kinnane suggested:
“With all rituals there is a risk that the way you conduct it can be broken or missing the point in some way. Without retros you might never discover those gaps or identify actions to address them.”
Retros are a time for checking in with your team to support positive culture and common accountability. When conducted well, they can address a lot of the disconnect in remote teams. It can be a place to interrogate and evolve the in-office processes that no longer apply.
If your retros allow space to expand beyond work in progress, it can be the best opportunity a remote worker has to come across the incidental “hallway” conversation and connections they’d otherwise miss out on.
The new normal of hybrid and remote work has forced organizations to constantly evolve. Being agile means something different for every team but at the core, agile teams are empowered to act quickly, adjust on the fly, and make decisions. These factors have helped pluralsight’s engineering teams build an internal culture of trust and collaboration while also driving improved productivity as a whole.