Agile will save us! Not if your team dynamic is shit

I've recently been involved in several meetings regarding our Software Development Life Cycle tool, which is currently Jira. Like other companies, we want to be more "Agile", so our "ticketing system" is part of that process, among other things. From a QA standpoint, my needs are quite simple, give me a ticket with decent requirements, a way to show I am testing it, and a way to show it's been completed.

The needs of others aren't so simple. I've heard dozens of comments about:

I need a Retrospective board
I need Gantt charts
I need Kanban
If we had a tool that does X
If I could follow process Y
I need to create stories using this method
If I was able to track Z
If I could get a timeline of
Etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc… In many ways it sounded like let's blame the tool for our shortcomings.

Problem is, it's not the tool. If that was the only hurdle, spending $100 would fix the problem tomorrow. Should people have to spend their own money to get work done? I'm not the right person to ask since I bought a pair of Mac Pros and have easily spent $500+ on software for myself and another $500+ on training. What did I get for my trouble? Only a couple of raises.

From what I know of the speakers and their teams, it's not the tool, it's a shitty team dynamic. Too many people feel they are in charge. Too many people try and dictate process. The agile cadence is off the charts. The relationships are adversarial. The team direction is confusing. The software direction is even more confusing. Everyone wants to be right, but have a scapegoat ready. There is a big difference between talking about Agile, knowing about Agile, and implementing Agile. And a single tool does not an Agile process make.

Over the past 5 years I've been on two very successful teams, with the first being a 3 year run, and a year and counting with the second. But, they didn't start that way. We used the same Jira instance we have now. We didn't have a scrum master, still don't. We weren't following the Agile process very closely.

For the first team, we built an entire website from scratch, delivered major pieces of functionality according to customer deadlines, delivered major enhancements based on customer usage, and even redesigned entire sections. Not to mentioning fixing all the bugs we introduced in the first place.

For the second team, I replaced the QA engineer that is thankfully no longer with the company. Of course that wasn't great for them. They had no idea what they were getting. I knew zero about the site when I started. Two new developers joined the team right before I got there. One developer threw up his hands and quit right as I was coming on board. I hope I wasn't the final straw. They had just come off a stressful cutover cycle. And then we hit a pandemic and all started working remotely.

But, we have delivered multiple updates and enhancements since March. We've refactored and improved huge amounts of code. We've delivered new code features. We've adopted a two week "sprint" and deployment cadence.

I'm not saying we are great or that we are a role model or that teams are great because I join them. I'm saying that in both cases we fell into a great team dynamic where we helped each other, we worked together, we communicated-in Slack, in team meetings, in Zoom, we asked questions, we asked for help, and we asked for feedback.

For both teams, if something wasn't working, we said it wasn't working. If I wasn't giving a dev enough information to find and fix and issue, I asked what they needed, then did it. If they couldn't reproduce an issue, I brought up the screen and walked through it. If I didn't understand how something worked, they explained it. If I needed clarification, someone went over it with me. I think it can be best explained by asking the other team members, "Show me how you work so I can support you."

To be sure, we've made mistakes. We've even had to "rollback." But, we admitted it was a mistake and learned from it. We've put steps in place to stop it from happening again. We even bring it up during deployment meetings, "We need to check X." It's a friendly reminder for everyone, not a statement of blame or trying to make someone feel stupid.

The point being, Agile and Scrum are great things. When followed they produce solid and repeatable results. With that, two processes within Agile are, a cadence you can sustain indefinitely, and self-organizing teams. You don't get that from a tool. That comes from the mindset of the team.

We succeed as a team, and we fail as a team. In that regard we are all equals.

Other articles of interest:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recent Comments
  • Enter dates into a date picker for Chrome and Firefox (1)
    • Prasanna: Hello, How to enter a previous month FIRST day and LAST day from the system date. Thanks Prasanna
  • How To Disable the Quicken Registration Prompt (31)
    • Juani: Hi, I have a registered Quicken 2016 and now my files are being held hostage by Intuit, cannot log in with my ID unless I upgrade therefore buy a subscription, I need to access my files, please HELP. Thanks
    • David: A BIG Thank you! I regularly reinstall Windows OS’s using different hardware configs. In short, Quicken 2011 (it’s March of 2020 as I write this) has been a program I’ve been very happy with and continue to use....
    • Karen L: Today I rang Reckon Australia again, got a different guy and he talked me through the process of getting me a new product key to enter since I already had the licence and it had been extended. Reckon have only extended it by 1...
    • Karen L: I have Australian Quicken 2008 on Windows 8.1. It keeps asking me to renew my licence which Reckon did for me however the activation won’t work. I tried this to disable the registration prompt however it did not stop the...
  • Building Relationships with Developers (1)
    • Carlos Herrera: Ah yes. I have a team of software developers and it is genuinely so hard to keep them in the loop during projects. Though the more we work the better the communication becomes and we go from a trail and error process to a...
  • Integrating DevonAgent Pro with Alfred (1)
    • J. Garr: Beautiful, sweet, and simple. I love it; thanks for posting this solution.
  • Round and Round with the For..Next in Katalon Studio (1)
    • Sweet Ophaline Labador: Hello can you help me how to loop this scenario. Checking the elements is just the same. I want to check that the following function is available in www.siacargo.com: Track Shipment – clicking on this can...
  • Parsing Strings in Katalon – Split, Substring and Readlines (6)
    • Don Pedro: String tempText=”Date Month January. Revenue $1,355,721.00″ println(tempText.split(“ \$”)[1]) You need to escape the $ with \$ The [1] on the split captures characters on the right of the split [0]...
    • Prasad: Hi, I need to get the substring from the below string ‘Date Month January. Revenue $1,355,721.00’ I want to extract text after $ value. Please help Thank you
  • Working with Dates and Date Formatting in Katalon Studio (15)
    • Sangeethaa: How to get previous day’s date(Yesterday’s date)? Actually I was using today.previous() before,it was working fine till today morning.Now its not retrieving right date. Can anyone please guide me on this.
    • Don Pedro: That could be a little tricky. First, is the text/format always going to be the same? You will need to do some parsing. Separate the first but of text at 2019. After that, split the text again to get rid of Central Standard...
    • Don Pedro: It should be of the same Date type as today. You could then do some calendar trickery with Calendar /*Calendar c = Calendar.getInstance(); //c.set(Calendar.MONTH, 1) //Set the month, 0=January, 11=December println...
  • Output status messages and test information by writing to the Log File Viewer in Katalon Studio (6)
    • Saranya: Good One. Could you plz share link to access all your katalon related blogs. ThankQ
    • Rodrigo Calabretta: I’m using the KeywordUtil.markFailed or KeywordUtil.markError and my test stops is being shown as Error and If I use in the @afterTestCase the testCaseContext.getTestCaseSta tus() to show the status test case...