How do Agile teams identify a strong purpose and mission, and what does that look like?

It’s All About the ‘Why’ in Agile

Being involved in the Agile world, you might wonder, just like many others have asked me, “Why is the team doing that? Why is the team looking out for a strong purpose, a strong mission?” πŸš€

Here’s the thing – without a clear and compelling goal to pursue, teams lack motivation and direction. πŸ€”πŸ—ΊοΈ

There can be no doubt that Agile teams need a compelling goal. 🎯

Self-Managing Teams in Agile

In the Agile world, we talk about and promote self-management of self-managing teams. These squads of professionals should take a goal and figure out how to achieve it independently.

The ‘what’ and ‘why’ are often set by others – perhaps the Product Owner and other senior members in the Scrum world, who fit into the larger organisation picture and drive everyone towards the shared goal.

But they need a clear and compelling goal to go after. Otherwise, why bother? πŸ‘₯

The Scrum Master’s All-Important Role

As Scrum Masters, we need to help those senior people understand the criticality of a compelling goal. πŸ“’

Without a compelling idea, why would teams care?

Why would they turn up and do their best work?

The Scrum Master’s Guide to Fostering Compelling Goals

For me, there are really only two key types of compelling goals we see for teams today, which are:

βœ”οΈ Cause-Based Goals:

These goals relate to the difference a particular product will make in the world. We’re talking about the lives you impact and the better outcomes for doctors, nurses, patients, the country, and the World At Large.

Cause-based goals are emotionally powerful and highly motivating.

That’s different when you’re talking about impactful goals instead of what the product actually is, the nuts and bolts behind the scenes. 🌍

βœ”οΈ Competence-Based Goals:

Not every company or product is cause-based. Sometimes, we want to create the best product or be the best team we can be. So, this drive to improve and excel can be equally compelling. πŸ…

Sometimes we just want to be the best. We are going to create the best widget that exists. We are going to be the best team that we can be.

And that’s great!

If Agile teams can identify that they know they can be brilliant, that can drive many people forward. πŸš€

Final Thoughts

By ensuring that teams understand their organisational goal, we encourage them to bring their best work. πŸ’­

If a compelling goal doesn’t exist, we must help them find one to drive them forward. This will motivate them to continuously learn, adapt, and strive for excellence.

Once we have that, much of the rest is very easy. We now have intelligent people who are driven to achieve a common goal. They are going to work out how to work together and how to achieve that goal.

It’s going to be difficult, but it’s going to be possible because they are willing to try things out, get things wrong, learn from their mistakes, learn from their successes, hopefully, and ultimately achieve the outcome.

The motivation is strongly driven by that goal with the autonomy that the Agile world brings. They’re given a mission, and they’re given a purpose. They work out how to achieve it.

And then we have a highly motivated group of people, all built on top of “this is why we work together”.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this insight and you want to learn more about Agile and Scrum, consider joining one of my upcoming courses.

Let’s uncover your ‘why’ together! πŸš€

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John McFadyen Managing Partner
John McFadyen is an Executive and Enterprise Agile Coach with proven experience working on some of the UK and Europe’s largest, most complex Agile Transformations. As a Certified Scrum Trainer, John brings a wealth of experience as an Agile coach, Agile practitioner and software developer into each of the four core courses he provides. The war stories, the insights into successful Agile transformations and everything he has learned from coaching high-performance Agile teams combine to provide course delegates with a unique, compelling training experience that transforms as much as it empowers.

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