Agile/Scrum blog

Onderwerp: High Performing Teams

The Power of the Edge Theory

Guus Verweij Door: Guus Verweij,  16-02-2017
Onderwerp: Agile Coach  Coaching  gedrag  Habits  High Performing Teams  personal growth  

The team I’m coaching at this moment is a distributed team over Holland and England and have just started to work with Scrum. They have put up a sequence to meet each other every month face-to-face to develop as a team. In January they had their first regular get together in Utrecht.

Needs of High Performing Teams

Alex van der Star Door: Alex van der Star,  20-05-2016
Onderwerp: Agile Management   agile  Agile Coaches  Agile Coach  Agile Teams  Culture  Development Team  High Performing Teams  Scrum  Scrum Teams  Team Happiness  Team morale  What motivates people  zelfsturende teams  

The needs that High Performing Teams have

In my previous blogpost, I wrote about the characteristics of High Performing Teams. To come to these characteristics I did a small literature review. For this part, I will establish the needs that need to be filled in in order to enable teams to become high performing.

Remember, I am still talking about a team of knowledge workers developing and maintaining a software product.

Characteristics of High Performing Teams

Alex van der Star Door: Alex van der Star,  14-04-2016
Onderwerp: Agile Management   agile  Agile Coaches  Agile Coach  Agile Teams  Culture  Development Team  High Performing Teams  Scrum  Scrum Teams  Team Happiness  Team morale  What motivates people  zelfsturende teams  

How to create high performing teams

This is the first blogpost in a mini-series of three in which I explore actions that Agile coaches or Agile managers can take to create high performing teams. I focus on high performing teams that consist of knowledge workers creating a software product.

It looks like we are in the middle of a social revolution equal to the scale of the Industrial Revolution of the 18th and 19th century. We’re seeing more and more self-organizing teams that make their own decisions within boundaries set by organisational direction, strategy and/or vision. The benefits seem clear, teams that take ownership simply perform better. But what is exactly the mechanism behind this? Is setting a certain corporate direction and giving freedom to self-organising teams enough to end up with high performing teams?

Childish motivation

Martijn Dehing Door: Martijn Dehing,  11-02-2015
Onderwerp: Agile Management   Agile Teams  Culture  High Performing Teams  Scrum Teams  zelfsturende teams  

Many of my friends are already or soon-to-be parents. Watching their children learn new things in a pace so fast that even Usain Bolt seems slow caught my attention. All of them are really quick in using their dad’s smartphone, the family iPad. Even the SmartTV gets wizzed through as if it has always been there. When you give them your old family photo album they expect to slide through it, just like an iPad. Even for me it is sometimes hard to follow, let alone their grandparents. The learnings that don’t come naturally, so it seems, are the things that they have to do by school, their parents or life itself.

So what are the intrinsic motivators to cater for this fast pace of learning? Could these be used as well in an adult environment, say e.g. a Scrum Team?

The Daily Goal

Barry Overeem Door: Barry Overeem,  14-07-2014
Onderwerp: Agile Teams  Craftsmanship  High Performing Teams  Scrum  Scrum Teams  

The daily scrum is the most used scrum meeting. This sounds obvious because it occurs every day. But it's also the first practice organisations and teams apply when starting with scrum. 

Although the daily scrum is a very straightforward meeting with a clear structure and can be practiced daily, many teams fail to extract the potential value it offers. It is used merely as a status update meeting, performed mechanically and resulting in incoherent and ambiguous individual plans. 

This is a shame, because a well-performed daily scrum should be energizing, inspiring and result in a shared refined daily plan that is created and supported by the entire team.

If your daily scrum has become unfocused, practiced mechanically and is an energy-drainer; using the best practice of a daily goal is a great solution!

The seven habits of highly effective Teams

Emiel van den Berg Door: Emiel van den Berg,  24-06-2014
Onderwerp: Agile Principles  Habits  Agile Teams  High Performing Teams  Scrum Teams  

I recently started working for Prowareness, during the application period I was asked to give a presentation about myself. Now, this is one of those moments to sit back and think about yourself. How do I present myself in one or two slides. What is really typical me? What do I believe in? What am I passionate about? One of the slides I made depicted my personal bookshelf because I believe that the books you read (and like!) tell a lot about you.

Groups & Scrum: Productive teams

Stephan van Rooden Door: Stephan van Rooden,  03-06-2014
Onderwerp: Agile Teams  Groups  High Performing Teams  Scrum  

In the previous blog, I talked about the importance of setting goals and what to focus on when trying to reach goals. How is setting goals related to productivity? When you stroll across the web on the topic of Scrum you will most likely run into the term ‘Hyper Productive Scrum Teams’. This sounds really nice and would most likely appeal to most people who consider adopting the Scrum framework. However, a hyper productive team can deliver no value at all ….but at hyper speed. And that’s where goals come into play.

Meten = Weten?

Wouter van der Meer Door: Wouter van der Meer,  25-02-2014
Onderwerp: High Performing Teams  

In 2014 is kennisdeling een belangrijk thema binnen Prowareness. Iedere maand zijn er verschillende Round Tables met klanten waar  Hot Topics worden besproken met als doel organisaties met elkaar in contact te brengen en van elkaar te leren. De afgelopen Round Table stond in het teken van de meetbaarheid van de waarde die teams opleveren en team KPI’s. Voordat we de diepte in doken kwam de eerste belangrijke vraag snel ter tafel: Waarom willen we eigenlijk meten?

Scrum Guild - exercise on communication

Peter Koning Door: Peter Koning,  06-11-2013
Onderwerp: Guild  Scrum  High Performing Teams  improvement  

Did you already use Scrum Guilds to improve the skills of your ScrumMasters and ProductOwners? Letting them exercise for specific situations, will improve their craftsmanship and let improve their communication! But how can you do that easily and effectively? Guilds are used to improve the craftsmanship of a particular craft for centuries. To share knowledge. Within the transition to Agility you can use this to foster craftsmanship within your organization. You can use Guilds for lots of different crafts, like (automatic) testing, DevOps, coding, and Scrum of course.

Scrum Guild - exercise on communication

Peter Koning Door: Peter Koning,  06-11-2013
Onderwerp: Guild  Scrum  High Performing Teams  improvement  

Are you also using Scrum Guilds to improve the skills of your ScrumMasters and ProductOwners? Let them exercise on playing specific roles in specific situations, will improve their craftsmanship and communicate a lot more easily. But how can you do that easily and effectively? Guilds are for centuries used to improve the craftsmanship of a particular craft. To share knowledge. Within the transition to Agility you can use this term to foster craftsmanship within your organization. You can use Guilds for lots of different crafts, like (automatic) testing, DevOps, coding, and Scrum of course.

Snel van Idee naar Product

Edwin de Werk Door: Edwin de Werk,  24-07-2013
Onderwerp: agile  high performing teams  

Op dit moment wordt in veel organisaties getracht om Agile te werken. Dat je eerst Agile moet denken en daarna pas Agile kan werken is een Blog op zich waard, maar daar wil ik nu niet over hebben. Wat ik keer op keer tegenkom bij organisaties is dat er binnen de IT-afdeling Scrum gebruikt wordt en dit al heel snel voordelen biedt, in de juistheid en snelheid waarmee functionaliteit opgeleverd wordt. Op dit moment is het “hot” om over DevOps te praten en wordt gelukkig tegenwoordig ook de beheerafdeling van IT erbij betrokken met alle voordelen van dien. “Optimize the Whole”. Weer een “muurtje” minder.

Wat nog vaak over het hoofd wordt gezien is dat naast de softwareontwikkeling en het beheer er vaak een langdurig voortraject bestaat. Dit voortraject waar projecten gedefinieerd worden, Business Cases en requirements worden opgesteld, neemt vaak zeer veel tijd en geld in beslag. Het komt vaak voor dat de helft van het budget al op is voordat begonnen kan worden aan de werkelijke softwareontwikkeling. IT-organisaties hebben inmiddels wel begrepen dat zekerheid zoeken in requirements niet de juiste oplossing is, maar geldt dat ook voor de business van deze organisaties? Te vaak zie ik nog dat er aan een Productbacklog gewerkt wordt waar uiteindelijk honderden items op staan. Een opsomming van requirements! “Old habits die hard” zullen we maar zeggen.

Tool voor Recruitment: Myers Briggs Type Indicator

Charlotte Bendermacher Door: Charlotte Bendermacher,  10-06-2013
Onderwerp: Coaches  high performing teams  leiding geven  

Binnen het recruitment vak zijn er heel veel verschillende assessments/tools die je in kan zetten om iemand beter te leren kennen. Bij Prowareness gebruiken wij onder andere MBTI hiervoor, the Myers Briggs Type Indicator.

Het is een tool die aangeeft waar de voorkeur van de sollicitant ligt, hier zit dus absoluut geen goed of fout bij, maar het geeft een richtlijn voor het gesprek. Met voorkeur wordt bedoelt: dat wat je kiest (natuurlijke neiging) als je helemaal vrij bent om te kiezen. Denk aan mate van zelfstandigheid? Denken of doen? Behoefte om te presteren? Etc.
Wees er als recruiter dus ook erg duidelijk over dat de sollicitant niet op basis van deze assessment wordt aangenomen of afgewezen!

How does the leadership of a High Performance team look like?

Vikram Kapoor Door: Vikram Kapoor,  08-04-2013
Onderwerp: high performing teams  



High-performing teams need a specific kind of leadership. It’s not about command and control, or even knowing the why and how. Leadership is about clarifying the vision, laying out the challenge, removing roadblocks and cheerleading to the goal.So how does leadership in a high-performing team works?

What is the ideal size of a high performing team?

Vikram Kapoor Door: Vikram Kapoor,  25-03-2013
Onderwerp: high performing teams  

A lot has been said on team size but an ideal number can only be determined after some experimenting. There is no hard and fast rule, as the team size is determined by the context. While you experiment, you can see the following rule of thumb.

1. Five seems to be a comfortable number for most people
2. Measure productivity and determine the impact on adding a member to the team. Keep on adding members as long as productivity per person is increasing.
3. The key is to have a productivity number for the total team to which everybody agrees and also have an individual productivity number.

“...there is a cognitive limit to the number of individuals with whom any person can maintain stable relationships, that this limit is a direct function of relative neocortex size, and that this in turn limits group size...”
- Robin Dunbar, Anthropologist at the University College of London, Author of “Co-Evolution Of Neocortex Size, Group Size And Language In Humans”.

’Er is altijd wel iets te vieren’

Charlotte Bendermacher Door: Charlotte Bendermacher,  21-03-2013
Onderwerp: high performing teams  

Als Recruiter van Prowareness ben je het gezicht van de organisatie naar de arbeidsmarkt toe. Dat betekent dat je als Recruiter de normen en waarden van de organisatie goed moet begrijpen en ze ook daadwerkelijk uit moet stralen. Graag zoom ik in op één van de waarden van Prowareness: het vieren van succes!

One important condition for creating a high performing team: Create a feedback platform

Vikram Kapoor Door: Vikram Kapoor,  15-03-2013
Onderwerp: High Performing Teams  

The core of high performance is feedback. It helps team members to get better and at the same time to channel the frustrations with each other. While giving feedback also talk about things to be improved. Once the feedback platform or stage is working, it becomes a habit. Eventually, people will feel comfortable offering feedback to each other outside the platform.

7 qualities of a great product owner

Door: Anand Gothe,  27-02-2013
Onderwerp: High Performing Teams  Scrum Teams  

Being a good product owner is not easy. It is one of the single point of failures in agile enterprises. Being a prodcut owner in a distributed setting has some extra challenges. On the other side they do exist. We have put down the qualites we have valued in the product owners we are working with and have thus created a picture of a great product owner. Being a great product owner in a distributed setting means that you should be:


  1. Available and approachable: it should be easy for the team to reach the po when needed. Usually, pos have other responsibilities too within the organization. He should make sure that he has enough time available for the team.

  2. Knowledgeable about the product: a po must have a good knowledge about the product/project that the team is working on. He should be able to answer most of team’s questions instantly without having to ask someone else. He should also be able to judge what the customers want and prioritize the features accordingly. He should be a hands on person, so that he can give timely feedback to team about the things developed. At times, the po should also inspire the team with his vision about the product.

  3. Knowledgeable about the organization structure and ability to manage the internal stakeholders: the po should know his organization well. He should know who to approach for solving different kinds of impediments. This is vital for the team because, it relies on the po to guide them through the organization structure and to manage stake holders. It helps if the po also has a degree of authority, so that he can make certain decisions that can help the team/project.

Work hard and constantly to get the team right!

Vikram Kapoor Door: Vikram Kapoor,  21-02-2013
Onderwerp: High Performing Teams  

Having the right people is the key to developing a high-performing team. How to get the right team members on board?

  1. Hire on attitude and drive, not experience – the best attitude is that of a volunteer!
  2. Rather than having long conversations with candidates, play hiring games that you have defined with them (e.g., potential employees participate/work for a day)
  3. Fire on attitude – uncommitted and non-contributing people should be asked to leave after they have had a good chance at changing their behavior
  4. Use MBTI or a similar technique to understand each other better (learn more in Appendix A about MBTI).
  5. Focus on the people’s strengths so they can accelerate, and don’t assign jobs they are not good at
  6. Take care that the team is mixed with people from different backgrounds
  7. Keep growing the team but be sure to provide stability – only stable teams achieve high performance.
  8. Involve the whole team in the recruitment process. It is a process in which the whole team is involved and not a decision only made by the recruiter.
  9. Work on creating a strong nucleus of one or two people around which you build the rest of the team.

“One deadbeat jerk cuts team performance by 30 to 40%!!”
- Bob Sutton, Professor of Management science at the Stanford Engineering School.

A crucial step in becoming a High Performing team: Have a goal framework

Vikram Kapoor Door: Vikram Kapoor,  13-02-2013
Onderwerp: scrum teams  high performing teams  

Goals are developed to clearly communicate what you want to achieve as a team. They give everybody a clear sense of direction, which generates momentum that leads to better performance. How do you develop goals that people want to pursue?

8 signs that you are working in a low trust environment

Vikram Kapoor Door: Vikram Kapoor,  21-01-2013
Onderwerp: High Performing Teams  Scrum Teams  

High performance is highly coupled to high trust environments. No high performance in Low trust environment unless your name is superman. What are the signs that you are working in a Low trust environment?

1.        The rule is document as much as possible. This is the only protection against somebody accusing you of wrongdoing. The documentation becomes a goal on its own and not a means to an end.

2.        Plans are made in concreet. They are cannot be changed to a changed reality. Changing a plan needs lot of discussion as the there is a lack of common value system and common ground. Better not change plans or you can get into a quicksand kind discussions.

3.        You need a signature/permission for everything. If you do anything without a signature your rear end is on the line. That is the reason that people do not show their entrepreneurial side in low trust environment. I have heard leaders complain that their people do not show entrepreneurial behavior, whilst these leaders were not in the process of creating a high trust environment which fosters entrepreneurial streaks.