The word “social” is heavily used in society with the advent of social media. Dictionary.com defines “social” as “living in companionship with others or in a community, rather than in isolation.” In the second part of a two part series, veteran collaborative team architect Scott Bowen explains how that applies to software development:
Our best solutions emerge when we get the optimal amount of information to assess the work that is in-progress or has been completed. From that assessment, you can make decisions from that key data. This requires a strong level of social skills among the development team and a careful match of personalities to form the team. We favor a flat organizational structure so team members don’t feel intimidated in putting forward their ideas if it may clash with those of a supervisor.
So much of the challenge of Scrum and Extreme Programming (XP) is the social aspect. Many developers are used to working in offices with the door closed and headphones on, tuning out everything else. While there are times when developers need that individual focus time, we’ve seen amazing levels of innovation and productivity come about when a group of smart people work together. The technical skills of a developer working on a Scrum or XP project are similar to what you’d expect in other environments building the same technology.
However, the soft skills are more challenging, as the concept of inspect and adapt implies ongoing communication. Testers and programmers collaborate as a development team to build and test the code. The team determines how to accomplish the work to achieve the vision and business value required of the product. Change is not feared, it’s welcomed because that means we’re better on track to what the user or customer really wants, rather than what either party assumed they wanted. The team has collective ownership of the code so each member has a stake in the quality of the code that is deployed. This all requires collaboration and it can be challenging for those who have not worked in a Scrum or XP environment before.
Having a collaborative team that is willing to communicate and be social leads to getting the feedback needed to create a great software product. What have you done to make your environment more social?Contact Scott Bowen by email at ScottJB@vmc.com or 877.393.8622.