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Forming and Storming

by | Nov 3, 2016

I wrote last time about getting a sprint team started. And left the conversation hanging when it came to the ‘team’ part of Agile.

The Agile methodology is really well documented; and whilst we’ve bent it slightly to meet the needs of business intelligence developments it’s still fairly formulaic.

The team bit however is a bit more, well, not-formulaic. In involves that most random of elements; people!

Particularly at the start of team building Bruce Tuckman’s ‘forming-storming-norming-performing’ is often too true for comfort.

Yay Forming! In most instances, most people new to Agile are keen to give it a go. Or at least suspend their pessimism long enough to allow me to get a foot in the door. So that’s the easy bit, but you know that Storming is coming next. Elbows out, this is what I do, this, I won’t. Or worse, I won’t do it, but won’t tell you!

Best make hay whilst the sun shines. Put tools and techniques in place to deal with the Storming whilst everyone is still Forming!

I have a few favourites from a website called fun retrospectives. My start point is always This Guy/That Guy; I’ve written about the technique before.  An awesome way for teams to identify the good and bad characteristics that they’ve seen before, and then when things turn sour, use it as a handy intermediator to discuss issues within the group.

There are plenty of other techniques for team building, some of which involve a night outside in the rain, but I prefer the indoor variety. I always try them out with the team here at OptimalBI first, before using them on a new team.

If you get into Storming and it all heads south in a big way despite your best efforts, then I resorted to ‘circle time’. I was somewhat inspired by my daughter’s year 3 class, but don’t let that put you off. Just hold the thought in the back of your mind; it makes the whole process a lot funnier for the facilitator.

Get everyone to sit in a circle with no tables in between. Each person takes a turn to provide their thoughts/a solution whilst the others listen. This can continue in rounds if required. At the end the Scrum Master summarises and provides a (hopefully) agreeable solution. It’s a great way to hear everyone’s opinions, clear the air and agree a path forward.

Bring on Performing!


Geoff blogs from a flat overlooking the intersection of Agile, Business, and Life

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