March 8, 2021


News for Agilists

5 Tangible Ways to Help Build Cross-Functional Scrum Teams

That way, the team can develop deeper knowledge in all the skills it needs to get valuable work completed.

3. Build Teams as Vertical Slices

Horizontal slices are components that require further integration to complete. Vertical slices on the other hand, are working software, a real measure of progress, and represent an increment of genuine value to customers.

That value may be small, but it is still greater than zero. A UI that is not yet ‘wired in’ is essentially just a demo: integration may necessitate re-work.

The frequency with which a team can deliver vertical slices of finished functionality is an indicator of how cross-functional it is.

One example of a horizontally sliced pair of teams is a separate UI Team and API Team. This screams later riskier integration and the costly hand-offs and dependency management that are associated with siloed teams. Instead build two teams capable of delivering vertical slices of ‘done’ work. They will deliver value earlier and more often.

4. Conduct Team Skills Audits

Know your team. Encourage openness on how your team perceives their skills. Identify each individuals’ super powers and document them in a skills audit. Teams need to develop skills all the time, and they also need guidance in this process. A team-oriented skills audit provides much more contextual sense to guide learning and development. Perhaps one of the team can guide others in SQL Server, while another of the team is the expert in Test Automation.

If the team know the skills they need in future, they can start to direct their own learning. Knowing who is already skilled and who is interested in up-skilling in these areas will help inform collaboration, pairing and learning and development efforts.

5. Organise Communities of Practice

These don’t have to be fancy. A monthly meeting of Coaching enthusiasts for 45 minutes might be all you need to start a community of practice in your organisation. These groups give your experts a chance to guide others, and gives novices an insight into a learning path that they can follow to improve a particular skill.

Inside the container of a Community of Practice, you might want to run dojos, presentations, open Q&A sessions, a book club… facilitation support might be needed, but once these get off the ground, they tend to take on a life of their own and become part of the fabric of an organisation.

Informal learning is powerful.

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