`First time I heard about team velocity has been when I read some things on Agile development. There are various descriptions of the team velocity in Agile and I invite you to read this one.
I said this is a great descriptor of the team performance and I should introduce it as objective reference for comparison with the other teams. Thinking back, I realized that it is not easy to implement this due to the way estimations are made and planning is implemented. Therefore, I put this on the shelf, for more reflection…
But, I came to the idea that there is another velocity of the team. I wrote some weeks ago about the team seen as road. If you are the vehicle, and the speed of this vehicle is the speed of your personal development, we come to the idea that the team velocity is actually the average development speed of the team members plus the development of the team itself (different than of the individuals).
According to physics, the speed is the ration between the distance and time. Of course, we will make, for this concept, a similar ratio between the personal development achieved and the time elapsed. When your are thinking
It’s excellent for any human being to progress. The trick that manager has to master is the direction of development. How this direction is in the interest of the team, respectively of the company. It’s the post-capitalism era we face now. Talents are important, this are the competitive advantage. Money are a fantasy.
Let’s continue with some more considerations about team velocity, how can it be ensured and what are the consequences of it.
The first idea you could put in practice is the set of trainings for a certain role. This is obvious and there are not so many things to say on it. I would add that each training shall be discussed by the manager with the team member to underline the objectives for the team and to reflect on the objectives for self development.
This is putting me to a next suggestion: consciously or not, each individual is developing from point A to point B. Having identified the two points A and B, the manager can use specifically the trainings and other development measures to facilitate this journey. Enrolling the individual in irrelevant trainings for his journey makes the journey longer and decreases the team velocity.
Trainings are not enough. Everyone needs practice. With the destination point in mind, with the next role in mind, the manager can facilitate learning experiences within controlled environment. For instance, there is the need that John becomes a very efficient software release engineer (you, that guy that prepares the releases and makes sure that the others gets what they have been promised). So, John can prepare some internal releases, can do some less important projects where he can practice his knowledge and imagine own working style.
Of course, development is harder as one advance in seniority. Things become fuzzy and manager should add his visionary talent to identify possibles steps ahead. There is always the need of transformation. A team does not remain the same, in roles, activities and responsibilities.Team velocity cannot be measured objectively in all aspects, but there is one obvious output: the thrive of team members.
I’ve read recently a post on HBR.org on Creating Sustainable Performance. One of the main ideas has been that people thrive within an environment that supports learning and based on their inborn skills. You can read full article, I noted down two things I could do in my team to ensure a great team velocity.
This comes with a bunch of benefits (see the theory of distributed computing power) and with certain drawbacks in dealing with mistakes. For me, looking for the rootcause, fixing it and not dealing with guiltiness and guilty people fixed most of the things. People love to decide and to participate to decisions, but they are afraid of mistakes. Having this fixed, manager can embrace a participative leadership style that prevents him on being part of every decision and leaves some time to think forward.
Constantly offer feedback
Based on my personal leadership style, I tried to improve the way I collect and give feedback. I’ve started with giving feedback only during evaluations, but I am trying (keep trying…) to offer positive and constructive feedback through out the year and make the evaluations only a sum of previous discussions. Additionally, I am looking constantly to facilitate the expression of feedback between team members. I think is not yet where it should be. Keep trying…
One thing it sure helps in team velocity is to explain and discuss. The journey should be a team journey. The development of one team member should be in the direction of the team development and should not do any harm to others. Constant discussions about the team’s roadmap increase the awareness and facilitate contribution. Also, one can identify other potential leaders during these discussions, gather useful insights and include common vision of the future.
This is not all about velocity. Next weeks we will speak about:
– adjustment of velocity for each team member
– expectations for senior team members
– how to retain the know-how and release the humans
– how to make the development speed uniform and avoid internal turmoils
Read more on the same subject:
Team velocity  -the mission of the team slightly influence the velocity