Sunday, January 27, 2008


What do you have to anticipate when you have a large number of new members on your team? This doesn't necessarily mean that the new member are really "new". They might have worked for an extended period (several months) on a different project or product.

One likely consequence is that people may no longer be as familiar with how your team works. Or in the case that they are in your team for the first time, they don't know at all how your team works.

At the beginning of this month quite a few new people joined my team for the next release cycle. They are all good engineers, keen to deliver good quality. Yet, this week it happened that although the continuous build was broken, a few more commits of the code base were made.

This was definitely not their fault, and it also was resolved very quickly. The team leads chose a good way by simply talking to the people and explaining to them why it is important to stop committing more change sets if the build is broken. Apparently some of them came from a background where this was not as much encouraged as it is in my team.

In my view there are more than one lesson to learn from this:
  • If there are new people - either from other teams or new hires - you have to expect setbacks, even if you conduct a proper induction to the new team members.
  • By working in a co-located team, and by using pair programming as a default, such setbacks do not go unnoticed for very long.
  • If you have helped your team to become self-organized, you don't need to step in. The team will take care of such issues themselves. They will find good approaches to resolve such issue immediately.

So, don't be afraid of such setbacks. It pays off to have the courage - one of the agile values - to delegate decisions to the team. They become much more self-sufficient, and setbacks are handled much faster and without your intervention.

I think my team did a great job here. Although they were not "hoping" that something like this would happen, they behaved exactly as expected. They simply helped the new team members to learn and that way to become even better team members.

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