Individual Skills

When we talk about individual skills or abilities: what kinds of skills are we talking about

  • Core skills: at the end of the day, a team must deliver, in a way that an adaptive organization can use. That is, the team’s delivery capabilities must be designed in the context of the Operation Model.
  • Collaboration skills: the abilities (and willingness) of individual team members to work together as a team.
  • Interaction with the outside world
  • Agile Fluency

Core capablity: Deliver

Core skills using the example of a software team

  • Development according to features
  • Prioritization according to business value
  • Testing in the same sprint
  • Stable, cross-functional team is empowered


Eight essential teamwork skills

  • Active listening is a skill that allows a person to focus completely on another person’s communication, both verbal and nonverbal. Active listening requires the ability to think of your own responses only after the person has finished speaking. A simple way to do this is to echo what a person is saying in your own quiet inner voice. When someone says, “I think we should build a new layout for the widget,” you’re saying the exact same thing in your own head. Active listening also requires you to ask for clarification, often rephrasing what was said and asking if you understood it correctly.
  • Ask questions. The ability to formulate and express questions helps us to understand and integrate knowledge into our own mental model of the world, or even to change our mental model. Asking questions is easy. Asking good questions is much harder. We must use an appropriate choice of words and tone of voice so that we do not upset or offend the recipient of the question. For example, asking, “Why did you do that?” often puts people on the defensive because they assume they disagree with the other person’s actions. Instead, say, “I don’t understand why you did that. Could you please explain?” can be a much gentler way to get at the same information.
  • Logical Reasoning. When arguing an idea or point of view, it is important to be able to support it logically in order to explore its truthfulness. This includes being able to state your assumptions or axioms, the data on which you base your argument, and the logical progression of reasoning that leads you to your conclusion. It is also important that you are able to avoid misleading logical methods.
  • Problem Solving. Effective problem solvers are able to think outside the box when challenges or problems arise. Instead of focusing on negative outcomes, they stay calm and help their team find a solution. This approach helps uncover obstacles or inefficiencies that are affecting the team’s success so you can work to improve those processes in the future.
  • Respect. Showing respect means recognizing the fundamental human value of your teammates’ existence and being able to step back from your own understanding of the world to acknowledge the legitimate nature of other people’s perspectives. That doesn’t mean you have to condone inappropriate behavior from teammates. Rather, respect for your teammates allows you to help them behave in a way that is consistent with their fundamental value as human beings.
  • Offering help and accepting help, The offering of help and the actual implementation of help are aspects of helping. If you suspect a team member is struggling with something, offer your help, both verbally and through your actions. This can take the form of information, emotional support, an offer to help solve a problem, or a shared activity. When we help someone, we share their burden. On the other hand, the willingness to accept help is also required
  • Share. Sharing among team members focuses on the things that help the team achieve its goals. This is similar to helping, except that it is a transaction rather than an ongoing activity. The transaction is that you give a gift and the other person uses that gift to meet their needs. Sharing does not require reciprocity. If you share something with another person, you should not expect that person to return the gift at some point in the future.
  • Participate. To be an effective member of a team, you need to participate! Participation in itself is usually obvious: work with the other team members. However, there are also some less obvious aspects. You don’t participate when the team is having a discussion that you find boring and therefore check your email. You do not participate when the team makes a decision and you do not participate in the implementation of the decision because you do not agree with it. You do not participate in a work team when you are mentally absent because of a crisis at home.

Interaction with the outside world

Teams not only have to interact internally, but also with the outside world. that is to say

  • with other teams in the same value stream (especially “upstream” and “downstream”)
  • other areas, supporting and parallel value streams
  • Customers

Agile Fluency

The Agile Fluency Model by Diana Larsen and James Shore is a framework that helps teams understand their current position and develop a customized roadmap. Agile teams go through four different zones of Fluency as they learn. Fluency describes things you do automatically without thinking. For team, fluency also describes the area of interest:

  • Focused teams produce business value (agile fundamentals). The team thinks and plans with a view to the benefits its sponsors, customers and users will derive from its software.
  • Delivering teams deliver at the rhythm of the market (agile sustainability). The team can publish their latest work with minimal risk and cost whenever the company wants.
  • Optimization teams are leading the market (innovative business agility, the promise of Agile). The team knows what the market wants, what your business needs and how to meet those needs.
  • Strengthening teams make their organizations stronger (possible future of agility). The team understands its role in the larger organizational system and actively works to make that system more successful.

Other areas

Other skills of individuals and teams include

  • Product quality
  • Work in the value stream
  • Consistent delivery
  • All areas of Agile Software
  • Continuous improvement
  • Contributions to leadership and organization