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Thursday, 29 November 2012

Soft Skills in Agile Projects

Soft skills are personal attributes that enhance an individual's interactions, job performance and career prospects. Unlike hard skills, which are about a person's skill set and ability to perform a certain type of task or activity, soft skills are interpersonal and broadly applicable.

A set of skills that influence how we interact with each other, it includes such abilities as effective communication, creativity, analytical thinking, diplomacy, flexibility, change readiness, problem solving, leadership, team building and listening skills.

The agile team needs:

·       Effective communication to ensure the team is synchronized on information sharing.

·       Analytical thinking to help the team to brainstorm solutions when a challenge is encountered.

·       Diplomacy skills to ensure tactful communication that do not offend or touch upon sensitiveness.

·       Great listening skills to not only to ensure accurate understanding, but also enhance the relationship with others and see things from other person perspective.

·       The ability to teach the technology or the functionality to the new team member which helps to ramp-up the team.

Agile is much a team culture as its software development methodology. It is a culture of frequent conversation and team building to agree the solution.
It is a face to face interaction on daily basis as team mostly working in co location.
The agile manager or the scrum master needs to follow the correct behavior to ensure positive results brought from daily standup meeting and other frequent meetings.

When I think about the Scrum Master are more of the soft skills. The soft skills of Scrum Master are:

Servant Leadership – The scrum master should come out of “Command and Control” style of management. As a leader it is your job to continue to be the vision and voice reminding your team of it’s values.

Negotiation – One of the key principles in the agile is having “Customer collaboration over Contract negotiation”. The customer collaboration is more value as the team will not have the requirements signed off and needs to work with Product Owner on the goals and needs to be flexible about the implementation.
Only customer can tell you what they want. The problem is they perhaps cannot specify what exactly they want, so working closely with customers and collaborating with them is hard.

Highly available to the team – The scrum master needs to be fully available for the team. If the scrum master only runs the daily stand-ups, it’s not going to help the team. He needs to be with team to clear the road blocks, to know the status and how things are going.

Excellent Facilitator – The scrum master organizes the several meetings, this requires excellent organizational and facilitation skills and not controlling the meeting.

Adaptive Leadership – It implies changing the leadership style based on the people working in the team, the nature of the task, nature of the organizational climate and the values within the organizational culture.

Maintain domain and technical knowledge without being an expert – Being knowledge on domain and technical helps team to clear the road blocks. But ensure that you are not too early jumping into resolve their problem.

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