Far too often as coaches, we find ourselves in a professional environment where the breakdown in communication and collaborative efforts has led to dysfunctional behaviors that cause development teams to over promise and under deliver due to a magnitude of reasons. Searching for a root cause, one may need to look no further than the culture of the organization and its stress on ownership. Teams need to be in the position of owning the work they are asked to deliver.
Even before estimating and writing “better” user stories/requirements, its important that the organization allow the teams to Commit to completing the work within the specified timebox. Commitment doesn’t mean to blindly agree to complete everything thrown their way in a specified period. Its authentic commitment that is pragmatic to the situation of the team. Many organizations have difficulty adhering to this concept, as simple as it may sound, because resistance emerges from both Business and IT. Business wants everything yesterday, and IT wants to please the Business, as they “believe” it reflects on their performance.
Engaging IT and the Business together in conversation to first understand each other’s pain points is a key first step in promoting authentic commitment. It brings a healthy dynamic to an otherwise dysfunctional environment, as the two parties can begin to embrace each other’s humanity, driving respect and forgiveness for each. Next would be to begin formulating a framework that both parties can operate within, and one that fosters collaboration with a focus on results. Unfortunately, Coaches are in most cases deployed into the trenches, working individual teams on stand-ups and user story writing (for example), when the root problems are manifesting further upstream. If a sound yet loosely structured framework is in place, the teams can develop the best practices and processes within the delivery cycle, and the coach can focus their energy on ensuring the Business and IT are adhering to the disciplines within the framework.
Finally, heavy coaching is required for the framework to remain intact and disciplines to be followed and for the teams to be in a position to offer authentic commitment during each delivery cycle. Coaching the Business and IT, so both parties are aligned on expectations, will undoubtedly enable ownership to flourish at the individual and team levels, and authentic commitment will be welcomed by all.