Tag: Team Health

The Importance of Creating Psychological Safety

December 7, 2020
We've all probably experienced some truly amazing teams and some dreadful ones. What sets them apart? It isn't pure happenstance or a roll of the dice. The foundation of healthy teams and cultures is a concept called Psychological Safety. While this concept has been picking up buzzword steam, it has been around since 1999. In her paper, Psychological Safety and Learning Behavior in Work Teams Amy Edmondson defined team psychological safety as "a shared belief held by members of a team that the team is safe for interpersonal risk taking". Why is this so important and how can teams work to create it? Within any given team, it is necessary to engage in learning behaviors. Learning behaviors are a means for the team to collect and process data…
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Serendipitous Collaboration in Unlikely Places

December 30, 2020
A little over a month ago I joined a shameless self-promotion channel in a Slack group to get notifications of colleague's blog posts and occasionally share my own. I expected it to serve as a means of constraining the firehose of information to alert me about new things I cared about. It has achieved that goal, but has morphed into something well beyond that. This group has become a safe place for people to share ideas and be vulnerable about unfinished concepts. We continue to grow and learn together, spring boarding ideas off of each other and providing alternative perspectives. It's also a place where people have great conversations about each other's ideas, celebrate and support each other's work, and regularly provide follow on posts…
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High Notification Rates and Psychological Safety: Decreasing the Learning Curve

December 22, 2020
Last week my colleague, Mike Crittenden, wrote a post on how good teams are noisy. In it he discusses the concept of successful teams having high notification rates and tangible benefits he has observed. Interestingly enough, last week also brought a tangible example of how high notification rates and psychological safety can help reduce the learning curve. What are Notifications? On July 10, 1989 United Airlines flight 232 experienced a catastrophic engine failure at altitude disabling the pilots' ability to control the plane. In conjunction with a pilot trainer who was seated in first class, the two pilots were able to conduct an emergency crash landing with 185 survivors. Conversely, in each of the National Transportation Safety Board 2…
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What Mistakes did you Make This Sprint?

December 11, 2020
It's time for the Sprint Retrospective and people are submitting their thoughts on what went well and what to improve. As the team submits their ideas, the what to improve column remains minimal if populated at all. Are things going so well that there is nothing to improve? This seems statistically unlikely; how can we seek a more balanced retrospective? Before we can do anything we should first examine if the group has a shared sense of psychological safety. This is the foundation for healthy discussions within the group. Without it, the group is unlikely to engage in sharing obstacles to overcome for fear of retribution or appearing incompetent. A tell-tale sign that the group lacks psychological safety is if people are afraid to say they…
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Empower Teams with Sprint Goals

November 25, 2020
The Sprint Goal is a core tenet in Scrum, an agile development framework. According to the Scrum Guide, the sprint goal is the “single objective for the sprint....The Sprint Goal also creates coherence and focus, encouraging the Scrum Team to work together rather than on separate initiatives.” It is an artifact of the Sprint planning session and empowers the development team to prioritize and focus work. Recently I had the pleasure of working on a project that embraced the creation of Sprint Goals for each sprint and experienced first hand the focus and empowerment they provide. Inevitably there is the sprint where some tickets take longer or other tickets are created mid-stream to help achieve the Sprint Goal. When these occur, the Sprint…
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