I’ve written previously on modular organizational structures and how they intuitively support adoption of agile practices. Now, I’d like to share how autonomous and functionally equipped squads have helped reduce the impact of forming and storming stages of Axelerant’s SCRUM-based high-performance teams.
If you are working as a manager, are certified in management, or working as a team member in a mature agile environment; Bruce Tuckman’s four stage model of group development isn’t new to you. If it is, forming, storming, norming, and performing are the stages that teams encounter during project life cycles.
This four-point model of group development or group dynamics indicates the necessary stages for a team to get through so that they can grow together, troubleshoot challenges, design solutions, plan efforts, and ultimately deliver results.
- Forming – meet & greet, goal agreement, work independently
- Storming – tolerance limits are reached, discussions to resolution, sometimes never passed
- Norming – acceptance of self and others, see team goal as theirs
- Performing – team is motivated, knowledgeable, and collaborating
Each squad at Axelerant is a tightly knit, autonomous, self-organizing portfolio entity that participates in weekly team huddles and virtual get together besides other group activities.
Distributed team members make up each squad. Meanwhile, co-located geographically members often meet to ensure work from home (WFH) does not become a bottleneck. This frequent, personal interaction built into the work environment helps develop a team’s comfort zone towards interpersonal relationships.
By not changing the team member composition too often and ensuring team members work together on multiple projects with consistent leadership dramatically, helps teams to bond well. These lessons are a major enabler for creating high-performance teams.
As Axelerant believes in metrics, we take an independent and anonymous 10-minute teamwork survey during projects. The following group development stage scores are from 4 project teams, with 2 to 4 engineers each, for projects across multiple squads.
- Forming: 20 to 23
- Storming: 19 to 23
- Norming: 27 to 32
- Performing: 33 to 37
The teams with higher scores on norming and performing zones have worked on more than two projects together as a team with consistent leadership across the same value chain.
A general discussion and an independent chat with score outliers exposed the need to work with the same set of people for being better aware of expectations, general behavior, and improving skill-sets.
By resolving these issues, Axelerant eliminates redoing efforts towards healthy coordination. As you know, coordination and collaboration is critical to the successful execution of projects following agile frameworks. These normalized teams greatly benefit future projects.
The group development stage scores above demonstrate that performing teams are 65% to 85% more efficient than forming and storming. Meanwhile, norming teams are 30% to 60% more efficient. By these metrics, Axelerant confirms the need to let team membership stabilize, provide consistent leadership, and encourage interaction with best results by groups.
Further in-depth squad effectiveness research during projects will provide relevant trends, similar dynamics, and other insights for building high-performance teams quickly and successfully.