When we read about the rationale for an agile approach to project delivery, the focus is often on the benefits realized by the company or by their customers.
While we can’t marginalize the benefits of early and frequent realization of business value there is a compelling case to be made about higher levels of job satisfaction and engagement for the team members working on successful agile projects when compared with their counterparts on equally successful traditional projects.
Self-organization can certainly contribute – no one enjoys being told what to do, so collaborating with like-minded individuals to come up with the best way to achieve a set of goals is appreciated. Working in a psychologically safe environment and team will also boost job satisfaction by encouraging team members to safely challenge their assumptions about their capabilities. And becoming generalizing specialists through opportunities to perform different types of work will encourage personal development.
But no one says that these practices must remain limited to agile projects. Traditional project delivery approaches don’t discourage a project team from acting in a similar manner to an agile team. Even the agile pattern of long-lived teams works equally well on traditional projects.
But a few agile delivery characteristics stand out.
- Frequent interaction with customers and other key stakeholders help to reinforce a team member’s appreciation for the importance of the work they are performing. Knowing that the work we are doing matters to someone and getting direct, regular feedback is critical. Of course this requires those interactions to be positive! There’s no reason a savvy project manager couldn’t attempt to create such opportunities on a traditional project, but it might be challenging to match the natural feel and cadence of showcases and similar ceremonies.
- The culture of continuous improvement generated by a team acting on ideas from successful, blameless retrospectives can be very positive for team members. This coupled with a team lead or project manager’s focus on removing hurdles should encourage a team to maximize their productivity and quality. Understanding that we are performing at our peak can also be a powerful motivator.
- Witnessing the business value created regularly through our combined work efforts is important. Knowing that what we have worked on has an immediate impact at the end of one or a few sprints can be much more encouraging than having to wait months or even years to see the fruits of our labor.
Never lose sight of the fact that projects and products are delivered by people – the happier they are, the better the outcomes.