Agile Teams Need to Be Ready, Willing, & Able

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Being ready, willing, and able is an essential part of any good team member’s approach in the workplace. But, agile teams especially need these traits.

Team members don’t just need to know how to complete the tasks in front of them. They need to be willing to do so. Without baseline competence, having the will to succeed is a fool’s errand. And without willingness, competent people can often let their skills languish.

If you want to become a well-rounded, Agile individual, willingness and competence should be at the core of your approach.

The Will to Contribute 

As defined, willingness means “the faculty by which a person decides on and initiates action.” It means being prepared to get things done.

What does this look like when applied to Agile? Well, it means that Agile team members are always ready to do what a situation asks of them, even if it’s not within the scope of their official responsibilities. 

Simply put, willingness is about buy-in, on both the team and individual level.

Willing Agilists understand that their most important role as a team member is to optimize value delivery. They’re prepared to collaborate, switch gears, or adjust their own processes to increase their contribution to the team.

Competence and Growth in Agile Teams

While the idiom “Where there’s a will, there’s a way” might hold true in some cases, when it comes to Agile, a willingness to deliver isn’t quite enough. 

To put it simply: every agile team needs to be able to do the work assigned to them. The end product needs to function well in order to deliver value. 

But, in an Agile environment, that’s not the end of the story. 

As knowledge workers (people whose main capital and output is knowledge and therefore invisible) Agilists should always be looking to expand their knowledge base and skillset. In turn, this should lead to a larger role in value creation and an expansion of responsibilities.

This growth mindset is what sets successful Agilists apart. And, it’s easy to see how one’s willingness to expand their knowledge would naturally lead to a higher level of competence.

When Willing and Able Come Together

What does it look like when willing and able people step up to the plate in an Agile organization?

Often, it means looking beyond the scope of your own individual tasks. Agile people don’t just see their individual tasks or goals. They see how the work that they do fits into the operational value stream of the organization as a whole

For example, let’s say you’re a programmer on an Agile team and you’ve been consistently completing and delivering your programming tasks. You complete them on time and in collaboration with others. 

But, you’re a truly Agile individual and you’re ready (and willing, and able) to contribute more. 

How can you turn that willingness and competence into action for Agile Teams?

Start by learning more about how value is produced in other parts of the operational value stream. You could get involved with more upstream tasks like Requirements Design and Architecture. Or, you could find out more about downstream tasks, like Deployment, Release, and Feedback. 

As you take a deeper dive into every aspect of value delivery, you’ll begin to understand which competencies you should work on next. And your willingness to contribute more will fuel your growth. 

As an Agilist, when you make willingness and competence the heart of your approach, you will inevitably generate more value for your team — and for yourself.  

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