Luis Kahrs, Agile Delivery Manager (ADM) at Codurance, invited us to a meetup where we discussed practices and tools that can help promote collaboration within a team. These can also be applied on an individual level across various areas of our work. Kahrs explained that within an organisation, values such as respect, pragmatism, and excellence guide and influence our day-to-day actions. He emphasised that collaboration is crucial in this mix, as it ultimately means 'working together'.
"Collaboration is the oil that moves the gears within a system."
- Luis Kahrs, Agile Delivery Manager en Codurance
Barriers to collaboration
How can we make collaboration flow? The Luis outlined the eight barriers or factors, that can affect collaboration, and how to overcome them:
- Lack of communication. It's essential to create communication channels adapted to the team's context that allow for generating agreements.
Some solutions include:
Embrace virtuality: When working remotely, it can be challenging to maintain constant communication, but we can use different ways to connect, such as Gather Town, which creates a virtual office, and schedule regular meetings to stay updated with the team, virtual coffee breaks to strengthen relationships by discussing not only work-related topics, or practice communities that are spaces to learn about new topics and exchange ideas.
Designed Partnership Alliance (DPA): Create agreements at team level on the values that are considered fundamental.
Communication tools: Whether it's email, Slack, or regular meetings, the key is to understand in which context to apply each tool and which one is the most effective depending on the situation.
- Lack of trust. Establishing a environment of trust allows you to safely share new ideas or opinions. Luis explained that whilst trust can be built, and even if lost, it can be regained. He gave an example of trust being like a stool with three main legs: honesty (saying what you think), credibility (doing what you say), and competence (doing it well).
- Unclear objectives. If I'm not clear about where the company or project I'm working on is headed, I'll take the path I think is best but may not necessarily add value to the entire team. To implement clear objectives, there are numerous methods we can use, such as SMART, GROW, or defining a first sprint to have a reference point.
- Poorly defined roles. If I don't understand the scope of my tasks or the responsibility of my function, I'm likely not to know how to collaborate with the team. A useful tool can be the Responsibility Assignment or RACI matrix, which helps define the objectives, tasks, and responsibilities of each member
- Shortage of resources. Ensuring that we have the basic resources that allow us to perform our role as a team. Whether it's technical resources like software licenses, computers, hardware, etc. or personal growth resources like a system that promotes continuous learning, e-learning, and consultation channels, such as Codurance's Academy, for example.
- Lack of diversity in the team. If we're all the same, we'll probably come up with the same solution. Having a diverse team, not only in terms of gender and cultural background, but also in skills and knowledge, allows for different perspectives on the same problem.
- Poor feedback loop. Without constant feedback, collaboration is very difficult. There are some methods that can help, such as regular 1:1 meetings that allow for areas of improvement to be adjusted or performance reviews, which provide a view of how our performance has been over time. Retrospectives can also be applied after a project to analyse the positive areas and aspects to improve in the future.
- Lack of commitment. It's not only important to establish clear objectives, but also to know how to communicate them. Reinforcing the mission, vision, and values of the company at all touchpoints with the team.
Collaboration is something we practice every day. To build it, we can focus on fighting 'barriers' and finding solutions so that it can grow. It is necessary to raise awareness that every day we influence others and we must try to contribute to the common good.