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The importance of an Agile team's mission

Image Credit: Nestle, and unknown
Image Credit: Nestle, and unknown

In a prior post, I talked about the 12 Agile Principles.

One of these states:

Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done.

To help agile teams deliver on this, it is important that the team has a clear Mission, or Purpose (same same, but different).

What is an Agile Team Mission?

It specifies what the team is responsible for, and by its definition also what not. It's the team's remit, the reason you exist. Short & sweet should be the aim, and it should cover the customer problem you are solving for. 

A mission focusses on the Now, whereas a Vision is about forward looking; the Future.

Don't underestimate how challenging it can be to formulate a punchy mission. Don't rush it; craft it over some time. 

What is my personal mission? To introduce people to Agile ways of working, and help drive tangible benefits.

Who should create the Mission?

Initially, the agile team's mission will be developed by leadership. It will form part of the initial decision process to stand up a new team, and helps clearly delineate between other teams. They will also ensure it aligns to the divisional and company's overall mission and strategy.

After this, it's over to the agile team! They are autonomous for a reason after all. Once in a while, review your mission and tweak as required.

The Cereal Box exercise

At a previous employer, we used the fun Cereal Box exercise for teams to (re)define their mission.

Each team is asked to design a box to help 'sell' their product or service, much like a breakfast cereal box: What is their mission? What features (benefits or outcomes) do you offer? What are the ingredients (team members, technologies, customer knowledge)?

You can shape this into a competition between teams. Who does the best job at 'selling' their team's mission!

As an added benefit for coaches, you get to see team dynamics during the exercise.

This came was originally developed by Luke Hohmann in his book Innovation Games.

I also posted this article here, including source.


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