Aside from roles, team members should be collaborative and flexible. “Agile is all about the benefits of face-to-face interactions and collaboration over than just passing around documentation,” said QASymphony’s Dunne.
People should be entrepreneurial as well, he said. “A lot of agile is based off the self-starter mentality that a lot of times people aren’t going to tell you what you need to do. You have to come in and set your own agenda and identify problems within your own product, your own business, and solve those problems to be successful in agile.”
In order to succeed in agile, you have to be able to adapt to those changes. But an organization also needs to be supportive of those changes and nurture the culture they are trying to grow. “Don’t push the principles,” said Sadogursky. “Give people time to adjust and the tools to adjust, like education, books, and training.”
Organization’s should build an agile Center of Excellence (COE), and continue to invest in their COE to foster agile across the whole company. A lot of times companies will cut their agile COE after a couple of years in order to save money, but cutting it causes you to lose your internal coaching and internal experts, and over time team practices will deteriorate, according to Rally’s Polk.
“You can’t stop investing in good practices because those don’t go away,” he said. “What happens when you don’t maintain those practices and don’t spend money on maintaining them is they start to evolve into easiest practices.”
There need to be people in positions of power or influence who have been with the organization long enough that they are willing to protect teams and show organizations why they should continue to invest in agile even if a project fails. “If you are trying to institute agile in an organization, you have to have somebody who has usually been with the company forever, and they are unimpeachable,” said CollabNet’s Brown.
“They have succeeded. People like them, they are good at what they do, and they protect teams so teams can actually work long enough to make agile succeed. If you can have that person protect them long enough for the team to show they were able to produce software at a different rate, in a different way and have identified things that cost the business money, then they are a step closer to succeeding.”
There should also be a nontechnical person among the team to understand what team members need and how to keep them motivated, according to Brown. “When humans get together, they go through these different stages of group development, and you want someone who understands that to help teams get through those and to a place where they are a high-performing team,” he said.
“It may seem weird to have to add someone who doesn’t technically produce something to the team, it may sound counterintuitive, but it absolutely works. Having someone focused on the team’s interpersonal problems so they don’t have to fix their problems frees them up to focus on the technical issues that are in front of them.”