Sunday, March 13, 2011

Agile Culture: Maslow and Peak performance for real success

I realized that goodness is when people expect gratification to flow in. This is precisely the fallacy of an agile team. Hence managing in an agile set up requires a cultural shift towards great performances and the distinction from good performance.

It is hard and all of us wouldn't agree and debate endlessly over good vs great. Since till the time discussion veers around greatness, there can be an objective comparison. So much written as Job Description needs to be carried out, so many results showed up, comparison with peers it is better, etc is how good gets measured. But while talking about greatness the discussions get subjective in nature and challenges the self over-looking and ignoring peers in that social environment. This is very troublesome. How can a good performer be criticized for not living up to their potential while we leave away non-performers and worst yet, the treatment ain't perceived to be that harsh on non-performers ?

Challenging better and top players in a team, makes no sense that why they are being singled out inspite of performance. When I was confronted with a troubled colleague in this situation, I couldn't help request my friend, Maslow to help me out. Maslow has anchored me in lot of psychological understanding situations in my career to help me understand the motives and spots to allow me to work with them in win-win scenarios.

Reflecting on Maslow, to me for an agile team culture, requires an empowered and truly self-esteemed team to make it work. Since agile is about thinking, adapting and continously improving the work areas. This cannot be achieved with teams where members have a sense of fear of their jobs, the consequences of making a mistake or speaking out in a forum with divergent views.  Agile team require every element of above to get tasks done well and quickly.

  1. Finishing a job quickly and your pay is linked to effort hours isnt going to get you in an agile team.
  2. If a boss is non-tolerant to ideas or ignores need for discussion, or cannot accept the complexity of the tasks is going to affect the safety needs of the individual and the agile team isn't in safe hands.
  3. Every person needs to present their ideas. This is highly appealing part in SCRUM retrospectives and stand up meetings. If you are cut short and cannot bring the issues or tasks completion to surface and request help, social needs of the individual aren't addressed and in name of agile, there is a failure waiting to flare.
Building on physiological, safety needs and removing the doubts in these layers is critical for a truly agile and great performance. Sense of job worthiness, and safety of job along with recognitions allow members to concentrate on thinking to get job done than rely on command structures to finish tasks and get away quickly.

In self-esteem and self-acutalized world, individuals care for their work, their efficiency and are non-tolerant towards noises and defensive postures that gives the required strength to agile teams to make the world better.

How you get a team of self-esteemed and self-actualized individuals together and make them work towards a common cause is where my current priorities and reflections are. What is your agile team composition and how does it work in your team ?

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