Importance Of Attitude in Agile Projects

11 Mar, 2008

While I was reading some chapters from the book “Toyota way“, the author was mentioning the importance on hiring the “Talented people”.
I also found institute’s giving training like “ Job Instruction (JI) is the Toyota way for worker training and people development.“.
With my recent experience on Agile-Scrum based projects, I started realizing how important is “Attitude” of the person involved in an agile team.
Some might say attitude is important in any kind of projects (say Waterfall based projects). I feel that compared to waterfall based projects, agile project team requires lots of collaboration and interaction between the team members, team member with the product owner, product owner with stakeholders and so on.
The attitude of an agile team member is crucial during the entire project time. Timely feedback from the customer is the heart of the agile project to be successful.
IMHO, the readiness of the customer to give quality feedback to the development team and the ability of the development team work on that feedback is pretty much depends on attitude.
The author of the book “Code Craft: The Practice of Writing Excellent Code” Pete Goodliffe and the author of the book “Agile Java: Crafting Code with Test-Driven Development were also giving stress on how important is attitude on a small discussion in Javaranch.

There is a clear main theme. My observation is that there is one thing that sets “exceptional” programmers apart from merely “adequate” (let alone “poor”) programmers.
It’s this: their attitude.
They *care* about programming. They *care* about programming well.
If a programmer has the correct attitude to the task, all other things will follow.
Think about the great programmers you’ve met along the way.

The author of the book “Practices of an Agile Developer” Venkat Subramanium mentions about the importance of attitude while he was coaching a team in Holland.

The team, the project, and the setting are what I would define as ideal for agility. The project has everything that’s needed to succeed a highly motivated team (that’s an understatement), superb attitude of each one on board, a fantastic work area (what a great lab, we have about ten people all working in this open space and the five eight hour days felt like five minutes, no interruptions or distractions, we had undivided focus on project), and an organization with leaders committed to succeed.

James Shore’s in his blog also mentions about attitude from the continuous integration perspective Continuous Integration is an Attitude, Not a Tool

Contrary to popular belief, continuous integration is an attitude, not a tool. It’s a shared agreement by the team that:
1.When we get the latest code from the repository, it will always build successfully and pass all tests.
2.We will check in our code every two to four hours.

If you have read my recent blog “Make Scrum team sync and happy“, you might understand how important is the attitude of a Scrum master towards his/her team member.
I believe it is not very easy to change ones attitude overnight, it do requires lots of support from the entire team, ability to accept constructive criticism, willingness to cooperate and openness.
If you some have other interesting point or facts about this topic, please post it as a comment.

Working as a Senior Consultant at Xebia India IT Architects Private Limited, Gurgaon, India.
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14 years ago

I feel a good attitude on customer and development side can even make waterfall work.

14 years ago

When i was attending Agile NCR conference, I liked this point from Pete Deemer
\”What do you do when the deadline is over and the boss says do whatever it takes\”.
At that point getting rid of testing, code-quality, necessary documentation would be a bad idea. If deadline is over so be it.
At least you have delivered a partially complete good quality product because it was developed in slices. At least agile should let you raise the issue well in advance. I will be possible to continue if the deadline is made available. Yes no one needs incomplete products. So whats the solution? There may be no solution.
The problem lies in how you compute deadlines. You might like to compute deadlines based on velocity and revise it accordingly. But this may not always be possible. Deadlines may still be forced on a project based on financial and time constraints. And because velocity wont be known in advance the victim will always be scope. Unless there is a deadline that was luckily (experience?) appropriate.
I also liked Naresh’s conclusion that one needs courage and discipline to do agile. This is probably very important so that the team does not misuse the freedom.
Also wanted to add that velocity will be higher in agile due to the leanness so agile is more likely to deliver earlier.
However deadline convergence is all about proabblity.
The accuracy of a computed real deadline is higher only in later stages. And its possible the deadline will need to shift and its possible the deadline can\’t be moved.
That said the limitation of deadline being wrong is a problem for both waterfall and agile. In waterfall its much more a problem. In agile at least the client will not discover during UAT that he wanted something else.
Coming back to deadline everyone including the client is aware of the risk in imposing a deadline. Sometimes they are willing to change the deadline if they feel satisfied about the efforts that were put in. Its important to keep lax time without being unproductive. Otherwise the client would feel he is being taken for a ride. Hence the need for a mature, responsible, disciplined, professional team.

Serge Beaumont
14 years ago

“A good attitude” is not an absolute term. What is a good attitude depends on the situation. A good attitude for working in an Agile team is different from the attitude needed for a successful waterfall team. Much is the same, but much is also different.
Having said that, attitude has more impact in an agile team. Instead of being a tool of the process, team members are expected to show more responsibility. Like I’ve said many times, agile is not a place for cowboys. Without a responsible attitude agile will certainly break down.
So attitude is a coin with two sides: it can be a major successfactor, but it can be a risk as well…

14 years ago

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