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Beyond Agile Software Development

Software Development is a Team Sport

So recently I heard of a team that is using Scrum and their manager had decided to have a “Person of the Iteration” award for the person that completes the most points in a Iteration.

I think this totally misses the point of Agile being a team of people working together to get as much stuff “done” in an iteration to the highest levels of quality.

Do you have an incentive to help other people in your team complete work? No Way

Would you like to pick all the easy stories in an iteration to have a chance of getting the award? You betcha!

What happens if several people work together on a story – who gets the credit? Well firstly you’re not encouraged to do this to win the award and secondly I have no idea how that works.

Personally I’d be working with the team to address some of the root causes of their low velocity and helping them find ways to improve rather than introducing awards that drive completely the wrong behaviour.

As a result I’m running a “You know you’re not Agile when…” series on twitter to keep me amused (you can find me as kanbanjedi).


6 Responses to “Software Development is a Team Sport”

  1. Totally agree. No individual should get credit for a team metric.

    Is there a per iteration award that could be granted for motivation? Maybe… only if selected by the peers and based on an agile practice.

    How about MVP? Most Valuable Pair!

    • Having anyone (or pair) stand out from the team is definitely not the way to go…even if the team select them. It just drives the wrong behaviour – you’re encouraging people to work on their own (or a pair) just to get recognition at the expense of the overall team effort.

      A question: would you still consider awarding an MVP if the team didn’t deliver their expected velocity?

  2. Hmmm… possible mis-translation. I meant “pair partner” and assumed pair rotation on a daily basis. For example:

    I’m thinking of a mature agile team that does TDD and pairing (that already limits this enough to strike it down from being a public idea since most teams aren’t there).

    If every person on the team nominated the peer who provided them the most value that sprint as a pair partner, then the team is selecting the person who most contributed to selflessly supporting others in delivering value/velocity and/or mentoring/knowledge sharing. Such an award would encourage people to not work as individuals, but work to uplift the team as a whole.

    As for your comment on not reaching velocity, that’s a whole different discussion. The “award” I’m speaking of is about recognition, not getting a prize. Mary Poppendieck has discussed the value of positive and frequent feedback and that’s all I’m trying to get to.


  3. I’ve always had teams rewarded as a team rather than an individual and based on the overall team delivery. I’ve also had the rewards given on an adhoc basis rather than for every iteration so that the team don’t take it as a given they’ll get a reward if they simply get their work done…that’s whats expected of them (or do I have to higher an expectation of my teams to work hard and do their job?)

    To me it’s a more effective way of rewarding people and encourages the whole team to help each other collaboratively. For me rewarding individuals only promotes individual behaviours (albeit collaborative in some cases) but I’d rather the team all collaborates together effectively which is a much stronger, long term and sustainable effect.

  4. Your points are valid and I can no longer debate the devil’s advocate point of view…

    I wrote this in between our comments: http://agile-commentary.blogspot.com/2009/04/can-agile-teams-recognize-individual.html

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