Agile Teams Self Select - Squadification

Using squadification to put team selection in the hands of the team members not managers.

The Situation

ZXM was engaged by the Clean Energy Regulator (CER) to uplift their agile capability and maturity. They were looking to improve alignment and collaboration between delivery teams, business and stakeholders. A key driver was to meet challenging timeframes, and to manage changing requirements.

ZXM coaches identified that the teams’ work was hampered by handoffs and delays outside of their control. The individual teams did not have all the skills within the teams that they needed to deliver value.  The Branch was made up of functional based teams which led to a very Waterfall approach in delivery and multiple handoffs between component and systems-based teams.

ZXM proposed combining the teams into three cross-functional agile teams. Moving from functional based teams into cross-functional teams. The teams needed to form new teams without losing delivery momentum.

The Solution

The CER leadership team agreed to the transition to cross-functional teams, but were looking to minimise the normal disruption that occurs with team changes, while at the same time inspire their people on their Agile journey. ZXM addressed CER’s needs with a facilitated ‘Squadification’ workshop to empower team members to choose who they want to work with and what they want to work on, rather than the traditional method of managers choosing who would be in what team. This was a big cultural shift for CER project management leadership to basically entrust the lifeline of your product to the tech team, allow them to form squads around initiatives, and trust them to deliver. It was however, very empowering, and team members felt valued and trusted and really liked having a say in the type of work they would be doing. This is also when people do their best work.

What the Squadification process involved

Individuals created their own ID cards to share their strengths, areas of interest and what they were looking for in a team. Guidelines were set to ensure balanced teams across skills, and full/part timers. Leadership support was demonstrated, with initial introductions setting the scene and empowering team members to make their own decisions within the guidelines provided. The Product Owner for each team pitched their mission statement and the attributes they were looking for in their teams. Following two timeboxed rounds of discussion and confidence votes, three agile teams with a mix of skills and a makeup that considered everyone’s strengths and interests, were presented to the leadership team.

The Results

With strong leadership backing, new cross-functional Agile teams were created within a timeboxed 2-hour event. The team members reported feeling a sense of ownership of their new team makeup, having had the opportunity to self select, guided by the needs of the team.

The teams were able to build on that solid beginning, holding team naming and charter workshops after the Squadification event, to further build their own identity based on the personality of their team members.

With the new teams formed, and identities created, the three teams were now capable of owning a product through all stages of delivery. The teams also experienced a faster delivery of value with the reduced amount of handover between capabilities, as well as greater  collaboration when working together.

Improved Alignment

Improved alignment and collaboration between business, delivery teams and stakeholders

Cross Functional Teams

Each agile team had all the mix of skills needed to deliver value.
Team members empowered

Faster Delivery

Reduction in handovers between functional based silos helped ensure they continued to meet delivery time frames

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