Improving Collaboration

Collaboration is key to agile. If you want to reach results with agile, professionals throughout the organization should look for ways to work together intensively and effectively. Here are my tips for improving collaboration.

Why collaboration matters

Most of the software products or services that are needed nowadays are complex and big. They cannot be developed by one person or a small team. People need to work together to deliver value to customers.

Many software products require knowledge of multiple technologies, platforms, languages, etc. Usually, it is not feasible nor desirable that people become experts in all of them. Having a team of professionals with T-shaped skill profiles working together is more effective.

Collaboration is much more than having multidisciplinary teams. Also, stakeholders and teams have to work together. The same is true for managers and employees.

How to improve collaboration

Here are examples showing what can you do to improve collaboration:

  • Establish a shared vision so that everyone involved knows what we aim to reach.
  • Visualize how well you are collaborating, for instance with agile self-assessments or agile retrospectives.
  • Explore collaboration bottlenecks. Use for instance a lean or critical chain approach to find the bottleneck that needs to be removed first.
  • Engrain collaboration into your way of working. Make it natural for people to work together.
  • Foster a culture that supports and promotes collaboration, for instance by emphasizing openness, transparency, and sharing.
  • Ensure that managers and stakeholders are role models and true examples of collaborators.
  • Support collaboration practices. Examples are pair working, regular stand-up meetings, swarming, mobbing, etc
  • Define a common vocabulary to increase communication effectiveness. For example, you can agree to use a framework like Scrum, SAFe or even People CMM to discuss the way people are currently collaborating and agree on what you want to improve next.
  • Celebrate successes that come from collaboration. Reward people and teams for collaborating.

To increase collaboration you need to invest time and money. At times it may appear to be easier and faster if people don’t collaborate, but in the long run, collaboration pays off. Professionals working together deliver better results, faster, at lower costs.

How do you improve collaboration?

Ben Linders

I help organizations with effective software development and management practices. Active member of several networks on Agile, Lean and Quality, and a frequent speaker and writer.

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