Teams are more effective when they expand their learning process to include other teams, departments, management, and stakeholders.
The scientific literature often treats them as open systems that are embedded in larger systems. This means that how effective a team can be is often negotiated on its boundaries. No team can be truly effective when it lacks the technical tools or proper support from management and other teams. This also means that learning should never be contained in individual teams. As DeCuyper, Dochy & Van den Bosche (2010) put it: “Teams can neither learn nor work effectively if they seize to share knowledge, competency, opinions or creative ideas across their boundaries with the different stakeholders in the learning process”. In fact, frequent opportunities for shared learning across teams and departments has been shown to increase efficiency and innovation (Sundstrom et. al., 2000) and increases knowledge transfer (Argote, 1993). The need for inter-team learning is also recognized as an important coordination mechanism in large-scale Agile by Berntzen et. al. (2022).
So what are strategies to start improving?
👉 First, research clearly shows that stakeholders are more likely to be satisfied when teams invest in the core factors of team effectiveness. Most importantly, stakeholder satisfaction is likely to increase when responsiveness and stakeholder concern increase, followed by team autonomy and continuous improvement.
👉 Second, the best strategy is to initiate open conversations between teams and stakeholders as to what can be done to improve their happiness.
👉 Third, it is important to emphasize that the Agile Team Survey allows teams to measure stakeholder happiness in two ways. The first happens automatically when teams are invited to participate. All members are asked to rate how happy they think their stakeholders are.
The second is by inviting stakeholders to participate in the short questionnaire we created specifically for them. Although both approaches yield useful information, the second is more reliable than the first. This works both ways. We’ve seen many examples where teams inflate how happy their stakeholders are, but we’ve also seen many teams that underestimated how happy stakeholders actually were.
Actions to start small and simple are:
1️⃣ Schedule a 1-hour session with another (Scrum) team. Both teams exchange what makes them effective, and what supports them in that.
2️⃣ As a team, identify one person in your environment with whom you don’t collaborate, but definitely should. Schedule a (virtual) cup of coffee for the next Sprint.
3️⃣ Identify one persistent challenge that multiple teams face and schedule a workshop to resolve it together.
What is your experience with improving shared learning ❓ What recommendations do you have to help a team start improving❓
Shared learning is one of the 20+ factors we measure to determine Agile & Scrum team effectiveness. Based on the results, teams receive evidence-based feedback on how to start improving.
Why don’t you give the Agile/Scrum Team Survey a try? We offer a free version focused on individual teams and a paid version that shows aggregated results of multiple teams.