Building a purpose-driven culture with agile teams 

Building a purpose-driven culture with agile teams 

Eliana Atia

In every organization, there is a big-picture vision and big-picture goals that push everyone to work hard and bring the whole team together. And then, there are the daily one-off needs; requests from clients, shifts in priorities, and last-minute changes. Creating an efficient and effective organization is about finding the balance between the two—and that’s where agile teams come in.

What are agile teams?

Agile teams are a cross-functional collection of employees, freelancers, or contractors who come together to solve a specific problem or accomplish a specific goal. Agile teams should consist of everyone needed to finish the project, making them completely independent from influences outside of the team.

Whereas traditional team structures and definitions of success depend on process and product like adding a new functionality or integration by a certain date, agile teams focus on trying to make the most valuable impact which means focusing more on the customer need and how the end-user will interact with the final product. In order to get the most valuable end product, agile teams need to accept last minute, sometimes inconvenient, changes.

Roles within an agile team

So it’s pretty clear what the goals of an agile team are, but how do you go about building one? There are a few main team functions that should be represented in every agile team to ensure its ability to move fast and avoid dependencies. One important factor to keep in mind when building your agile team is the size— most agile teams are recommended to stay within five to 8 members. Just tell yourself, if you can’t comfortably fit in a room (or zoom room) together to have a discussion, your team is probably too big.

Let’s check out the main players that make up an agile team:

The Product Owner

Usually in touch with key stakeholders, the product owner is responsible for aligning the project with long-term goals and ensuring things don’t veer off course. In order to keep everyone moving in the same direction and focused on key goals, the product owner also takes the responsibility of internal communication, making sure all team members are aware of new updates and changes that may affect their project.

The Scrum Master

The Team Member

The team members are the ones with their boots on the ground. They are creators and builders that are implementing the vision of the product owner and consulting with the scrum master to make sure everything is running smoothly. These team members can be copywriters, designers, developers, videographers, or anything in between. The goal of the team members is the execute quickly without compromising the quality.

The ART of agile teams

Implementing agile release train, or ART, is a great way for larger organizations and enterprises to manage agile teams. An ART is essentially a team of agile teams that come together to focus on common and predetermined goals. These ARTs are comprised of anywhere from eight to fifteen agile teams that cover all necessary specialties needed to execute initiatives. What the ART will focus on per sprint is determined at a PI planning event where all agile teams within an ART come together to plan their product increments for the next two to three months. Following the PI planning, each agile team should have an understanding of the ART’s goals and what is expected (in a broad sense) for them to deliver at the end of the sprint.

Building a high-functioning agile team

Remaining steadfastly committed to an agile team structure means constantly reminding you and your team about the true goals and motivators that keep you moving and define where you spend your time. To do this, it can be best to nail down exactly what the goals of a high-functioning agile team are to use as a north star when your path begins to veer.

7 Goals of high-functioning agile teams

productive agile teams

Maintaining strict expectations and working on impactful work that covers deep-rooted needs as opposed to simply putting out fires develops a style of working that is scalable and effective.

Distributed agile teams 

It is a widely held belief that agile teams work best together. There are a number of reasons this could be ranging from creativity and problem solving that tend to be stronger with in-person teams to an ability to execute at higher levels—but working face-to-face with your agile team is not always an option.

That does not mean that you cannot build highly effective and motivated agile teams while working from home. But to make sure things stay organized and nimble, you will need ways to clearly define goals, communicate quickly throughout the day, and all stay in the loop instantaneously when changes are made. To set up the dream remote agile team, we recommend three best practices and three tools:

1. Zoom for team syncs and retrospectives

Making a habit of syncing as a team and committing to retrospective meetings will ensure your team still feels like a team and are all equally committed to continued improvement

2. for big-picture planning and cross-team alignment

Having a Work OS where all teams plan, track, and execute their daily work ensures that everyone has access to important updates, files, and project planning. Getting started with planning for an agile team is simple with an organized board that brings everyone together. You can get started right away with a for agile teams template.

agile team planning template
Try the story points template now!

3. Slack for sprinkling conversations throughout the day

Asking tiny clarifying questions or just chatting with your team members is always a must, no matter where you are. That’s why Slack can be a great addition to any remote agile team and includes an integration with that allows important Slack messages to automatically populate to keep everyone in the loop.

Committing to an agile team structure and following it through can be a challenge when faced with the lightning-fast speed of business and conflicting needs. However, continuing to remind yourself and your team of your core goals and maintaining an organized system to keep everyone on track can ensure that your team remains agile, effective, and responsive.

Eliana Atia
Eliana is a marketer and storyteller who uses her diverse industry experience to create compelling content. A Texas native and current Telavivian, she’s finding her place somewhere between BBQ tacos and falafel pitas.
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