Trust and Project Culture with Rachel Davies at XPDay

Earlier this week, myself and some other youDevisers attended the XPDay conference in London. There were many good choices in terms of sessions, so many in fact, that we had to all coordinate to try to make sure we didn’t miss anything.

One of the sessions I attended was Trust And Project Culture. It was about how essential trust is to productivity and the things that can either increase or decrease trust. The session included a workshop session where we broke into small groups and tried to come up with examples of good (trust-increasing) and bad (trust-reducing) behavior in agile organizations.

Examples of bad behaviors:

  • Office politics
  • Mind games
  • Competition
  • Lack of Enthusiasm
  • Hiding Information
  • Cliques (in groups)
  • Lack of respect or recognition
  • Punitive environment

Examples of good behaviors:

  • Colocation
  • Building rapport
  • Transparency
  • Communication
  • Setting clear goals
  • Good environment
  • Listening
  • Diversity
  • Encouraging asking for help
  • Honesty
  • Freedom to self-manage

There was also a discussion of what kinds of tools might be used to build trust in teams. Most people agreed vehemently that just ‘team building exercises’ were contrived and not very helpful. The tools are most effective when consistently used as part of an overall environment, as a compliment, not as an occasional patch to a failing environment.

Tools to help build trust:

  • Create a charter for team behavior (and discuss it!)
  • Frequent retrospectives
  • Informative workspaces (radiators)
  • Lunch and learn sessions
  • Show and tell at the end of iterations
  • Structure meetings to allow time for asking questions and listening
  • Continuous self-improvement (provide work time for self-improvement)
  • Reduce competition, reward and encourage cooperation
  • Set clear standards, measure by them as well as use them
  • Mood Calendar (radiator for team sentiment on a day to day basis)
  • Team mother / Scrum master / (Virgil)
  • Pair as part of the hiring process
  • Clean floor layout, don’t hide your developers
  • Utilize visual feedback (radiators)
  • Look for and implement industry best practices