Trust the Team!

One of the Agile Manifesto principles says we should “build projects around motivated individuals – give them the environment and support they need – and trust them to get the job done.”

Recently I was reminded of how powerful a Scrum team can be when we simply trust that they can solve a problem.  We were looking at using some new technology, something the business wasn’t familiar with at all and the team had only limited training on.  As is common in large companies we got stuck in an analysis loop for quite a while.  The business wasn’t really comfortable moving ahead with this new technology until a swath of questions were answered.  How will it work when it’s done?  How long will it take?  Are you sure the team can handle it?  We need to know what the plan is!  What if it doesn’t work, what are our contingency plans?

All of these types of questions make for good discussion, and team and business should talk about them, don’t get me wrong.  The problem comes in when these types of questions stifle exploration and creativity.  We have a whole team of highly skilled developers just waiting to tackle this cool new problem, and we’re holding them up!

The team decided to dig in and do some investigation while the business was still talking through their questions   After a few weeks we had something to show, something to demo, and something to have a real conversation about.  Concrete working software.  This is the game changer.  It’s much easier to have a conversation about all the risks and concerns of the business when talking about chunk of working software.  The team continued on this path for a few weeks and kept exploring this new technology, gets more and more pieces of the puzzle put together, and learning a ton along the way.

Too often we try to centralize decision making authority with management.  When in fact, the best way to develop a complex product in a complex environment is to distribute decision making authority to the lower responsible level – in the case of product development with Scrum, this is the Scrum team.  Trust your team, give them freedom to explore and learn.  Always trust that the smart people you’ve hired to build your product can do just that – build a product.

 ”Intelligent control appears as uncontrol or freedom and for that reason it is genuinely intelligent control”
~Loazi, 600BC.


Also cross-posted here:


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