When a new team comes together, it’s interesting to watch the dynamics. In my world, there are a lot of strong personalities. Really smart people with great ideas and a desire to go beyond what’s expected. It makes for some interesting forming. The last team I set up had some great conversations about stories and, initially, I don’t think anyone heard them except for me. I found myself saying things like “A – What did you think of what B just said?” a LOT. Prior to going into their first sprint, we had a retro. Happily the team identified communication as their focus in their first sprint together. They identified and agreed to actions:
- Don’t wait to ask questions because everyone on the team will benefit from the answers.
- If you don’t understand or agree, say so.
- Listen to each other.
Listening to understand can be so difficult. I know it can be for me. It used to be impossible for me. I was certain I knew exactly what someone’s point was and would have my brilliant response ready before they had even finished talking. Generally, I would interrupt and impart my wisdom only to find out I missed the point entirely. I conveyed something similar to the team once they had agreed on their actions and they modified that third bullet to what is now in the title.
I try to always remember this myself. I’ve gotten better, but it will always be something I have to work on. All this Agile transformation going on has my brain in overdrive, but I’m of no use to a team or anyone else if I’m not listening to understand.