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10 Best Practices for Small, Agile Teams

Profitability is at the core of successful businesses.  Many markets do not allow as much top-line revenue increase as the companies would like.  Therefore, organizations have to focus on improving the bottom-line.

Boosting the bottom-line entails raising Productivity.  Productivity enhancement can be achieved by eliminating redundancies and improving processes that change the company.  Process Improvement also means less people needed to accomplish the same tasks.

Change projects—as is the case with most other projects—almost always run over budget and over time, especially when new technology comes into the mix.  Causes for failures in Change Management are many and one of them is heavy and bureaucratic teams.

Raising Productivity in teams designated for change projects is well-nigh impossible.   A solution to this is Building Effective Teams by keeping teams small—a remedy that has shown its effectiveness time and again.

Smaller teams tend to communicate effectively, decide quickly, do course corrections more easily, work faster, and innovate more.

Large organizations have the tendency of deploying large teams because as the planning process goes on, the scope gets bigger and bigger.  This practice is defeating in itself because sight of the goal is lost in the bureaucratic rigmarole.

For projects to be executed swiftly and successfully the following 10 best practices for smaller, more Agile teams are very effective:

  1. Break Down Problems
  2. Eliminate Indispensable Roles
  3. Adopt One-step Decisions
  4. Foster Trust
  5. Share Information Freely & Informally
  6. Increase Visibility & Accountability
  7. Minimize Conference Calls
  8. Track Less
  9. Increase Cross-team Collaboration
  10. Adopt Technology Faster & Effectively

 Let us delve a little deeper into some of the best practices.

Break Down Problems

Dividing the project into distinct problems or separating business capabilities into converged organizational units makes it easier for smaller teams to deliver.

Assorting sizable, complex problems into discrete, attainable pieces and teaching members to develop a Problem Solving Mindset enables small teams to take them on easily and over deliver on them.

An alternate to making teams smaller without compromising on the structure of the organization is to separate business capabilities into focused organizational units. 

Eliminate Indispensable Roles

Making sure that individuals with a certain type of skill or key people are not scarce in the organization lest they get pulled by different teams at the same time. 

Essential people are wanted by all teams, consequentially their time gets split into such small chunks that no task gets done properly.  Operational risk becomes prodigious when dependent on a single person.

It is vital to work away from such scenarios in a team.

Adopt One-step Decisions

Bureaucratic way of decision-making in large teams should be avoided by identifying types of decisions and the decision-making authorities, at the outset. 

Foster Trust

Trust speeds up progress, augments quality, and diminishes execution risk.  Trust has to be built up by conscious effort.

Share Information Freely & Informally

One of the ways for effective Team Management is to keep communication swift and the only way of doing this is to keep it informal.

Interested in learning more about these best practices for Small, Agile Teams?  You can download an editable PowerPoint on 10 Best Practices for Small, Agile Teams here on the Flevy documents marketplace.

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About Mark Bridges

Mark Bridges is a Senior Director of Strategy at Flevy. Flevy is your go-to resource for best practices in business management, covering management topics from Strategic Planning to Operational Excellence to Digital Transformation (view full list here). Learn how the Fortune 100 and global consulting firms do it. Improve the growth and efficiency of your organization by leveraging Flevy's library of best practice methodologies and templates. Prior to Flevy, Mark worked as an Associate at McKinsey & Co. and holds an MBA from the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago. You can connect with Mark on LinkedIn here.

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