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Scale Agile through team maturity

Jun 26, 2024
Edwin van der Thiel

The last couple of years I haven’t been able to write a lot due to many changes in my life. My wife moved to the Netherlands, we bought a house, bought another, got married and 16 months ago our daughter was born. It’s amazing to see how different your life becomes with such events, especially in such a pressure cooker. Now we have the added responsibility of offering our little girl the best possible tools to grow up and join this world. Of course, we’re just getting started, but it’s amazing to see how many ideas there are on what these should be.

Of course, work continues as usual, and so did my interest in agile processes. Or rather, annoyances, it’s amazing to see how much organizations lean on their processes, structure, limitations just to ensure they can get as close as possible to uninspired, soulless, uniform, consistent teams that follow every mechanism of control – where SAFe is the best effort I’ve seen to attain this. Just another brick in the wall.

It feels wrong. I feel this can’t be it. The key characteristic of Agile is Trust. We’re supposed to build on inclusivity, making the individual matter, growing together, seeing our workforce as added value. And last year I’ve drawn the parallel with our little girl. She needs to grow up, become a responsible adult (but not too soon). She needs to learn, grow, make mistakes, make friends, laugh and cry. At the moment we’re managing it very close as she is not expected to make life’s big decisions by herself, but when we trust her with something she wants, she makes us proud every time.

Now I started thinking, why don’t we apply these principles to our teams?  View them as individuals each with their own need, offer boundaries when they’re unaware but teach them, make them grow. Not every team will become proficient at everything, and it doesn’t matter. We’re there when they need us. When teams have their individuality, you can match their strengths and weaknesses to best support your company. A responsible and mature team can support you so you can focus on the bigger picture. You can diminish the massive apparatus of support teams on security, compliance, infrastructure etcetera, a mature team understands its responsibility.

Our little girl has reached 16 months. We’ve visited a school, taking her swimming, reading her a book when it’s time for bed. Her path has only just begun, we need to decide what role we’re going to play. Are we going to focus on processes and structure, or will we focus on trust and her individuality?

About the author

Edwin van der Thiel

Technology Consultant Microsoft
In 2011, his passion for creating new solutions led him back to the field of software development, where Sogeti offered the opportunity to make this switch. Since then he has worked with different customers at various locations.

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