Team morale in agility

The sentence analysed in the previous post continues; the full sentence reads “If you carry this way of working on for months or years, you get a lot of technical debt and you get low morale”.

The second part of the statement is particularly interesting because it is a common argument for agile methodologies that they improve morale. One case study reports an improvement equivalent to a 30% pay rise: “Besides being extremely beneficial, working using Agile practices has boosted our company’s team morale much better than if I were to give employees a 30% raise” (IBM, ThoughtWorks, Forrester)

What are the factors that are particularly important in agility and have a positive impact on morale? They are all double-edged weapons; if they are not used, or not used in the way they are methodologically designed, they can backfire…

Customer focus, customer proximity and customer feedback
These three strongly interlinked things – if implemented successfully – will give a sense of continued success because of the short iteration length, and the experience of actually using and loving our product more and more.
A traditional model rarely achieves a sense of success and usefulness over a very long period of time, and in the worst case, if the development has gone very wrong due to the lack of these things, never.
But if the customer doesn’t exist (we are working on a product dreamed up in an ivory tower, which may not be wanted by one), we keep it out of development or we are just simulating it, so we are developing without real market experience and feedback, it may turn out that we have worked in vain after the product is released. However, as the promotional material on agile promises otherwise, the disappointment will be much greater.

Thinking together
Agility is defined by business-development collaboration as a key feature. Instead of system requirements, the business brings user problems and business goals, which are solved by thinking together with the development team to find ways (business-wise) and whose technical solutions are invented by the team autonomously and independently. In this way, team members are more involved in product development, and their individual expertise and creativity is given more space.

Quality is strengthened at both technical and functional levels by making testing part of development, by stating that technical excellence must be constantly monitored and, in the case of Scrum, by setting both quality levels with the Definition of Done. Delivering a good quality product is a greater source of pride, we prefer to tell our friends about it.

Process development
The real meaning of retrospectives is that in these methodologies, the processes to be followed are not defined and imposed on the team by the management or, in the worst case, by an external expert, but after an initial common agreement, the team is given power over its own processes (within certain limits, of course) and has the opportunity to regularly improve and improve them.

Working in a creative, mutually supportive team, working together towards a common goal, is a great feeling, both personally and professionally. It takes time for a fresh team to become like this, which is why it is so important to maintain team stability.

Scrum values
Implicit in the above points, but also important to highlight: the successful creation of the five values defined by Scrum also has a big, positive impact on morale. The five values are openness, focus, respect, courage and commitment. You can learn more about Scrum in our Scrum / Agile Elevation Training.