Globalization Culture and Team Diversity
Adoption of Agile as a software development methodology is one of the most critical trends in the industry. A look at why is this important or relevant as it relates to the much larger topic of globalization?
List of Key Agile Principles and How they support Globalization
The outsourcing industry is filled with key phrases and terms designed to describe it’s challenges, benefits and future direction. Recently the term “globalization” is resurfacing over and over as we are entering, what many believe, is the next era of the outsourcing market where the requirement to delivery services consistently on a global scale will be the primary decision making criteria for many companies that see outsourcing as a fundamental component of their IT and business strategy.
When we look at the key principles of Agile we find both an approach and a structure in support of globalization.
Collaboration and Cooperation
The nature of this methodology is indeed a higher level of collaboration and communication across teams, whether they are local, dispersed within the building or located around the globe. Agile is disruptive and often requires changes in the behavior of teams and people yet it drives the formation of relationships, problem resolution, decision making, consistent delivery of software and time-to-market faster than any other approach.
IT & Business Alignment
Iterative development allows both IT and the Business to see working software sooner thus being able to adapt changes in support of market conditions and trends, validate initial requirements and get to a mutually agreed upon business value sooner. Agile continues to be instrumental in helping these two organizations communicate at a much higher level with better results.
The process of testing early and often within Agile projects that deliver incremental releases provides an integrated approach to identify problems very early and get to immediate resolution. With automated testing, test driven development (XP) and involvement from QA teams, risk is controlled, managed and communicated continuously
Managing costs is only one side of the project objective. The other is determining a measurable business value on what you are actually making. Companies looking to implement a globalization strategy around software delivery need to pay attention to this principle. There are strategies for introducing methods to determine business value and in turn those strategies drive not only management of costs, but also how contracts are managed between company and service providers and what determines agreement on global delivery
Diversity in Agile Teams
Diversity is important on effective teams, and not just gender diversity – Johanna Rothman (www.jrothman.com) is one commentator who has a series of posts on the value and importance of diversity – some of the key points she makes include:
- Women tend to bring more collaborative skills and more empathy skills to a team. (That’s a gross generalization. I realize that.)
- The more complex the problem, the more personality and experience diversity you want on your team. That’s because different approaches to solving problems and backgrounds help the team see what their options are.
- I once worked with a team who were all introverted, quick to come to decisions, and all had the same kind of product experience. When it came time to develop a brand new product, they had trouble. They had no one who came up with wacko ideas on the spur of the moment, and no one who could keep options open for a while. They hired someone who liked to wait longer to come to decisions. That person also connected problems and solutions differently than the original team members did, so he was a very helpful addition to the team
- New grads have a huge advantage over experienced people: They don’t know the problem you need solved can’t be solved. They’ve been trained through 4 years of university that all problems can be solved before the end of the semester. They will bring that optimism to work.
- If you only look for senior people who’ve done the same kind of thing you have, you may get the people you want. But instead of pigeon-holing people, consider experience diversity to increase team capability.
Underestimating the impacts of cultural diversity on your team can be disastrous, creating barriers and even team breakdown. Most leaders arenpsilat aware of the influences that cultural differences can have on team dynamics. These impacts can be even more pronounced on agile self organizing teams. Respective team members should explore these differences and addressed them on a timely basis.