J I McFadyen Engineering

Supporting Collaboration

Spider values

A few years ago I found myself sat on a train reading Bramble Bushes in a Thicket. One of the things this the paper talks about is the different values an organisation can have. My mind wandered, as if often does, to how you would collect this data.

Spider web and dewAfter discarding a few of my more random ideas I began to see the potential of radial diagrams. Or as I and most people I know say, spider web diagrams.

Seeing Agile Values

The easiest, and my first, use for this was in capturing a team’s sense of the Agile values.

I started by listing the 5 Agile values on the diagram. I invited each participant to make a mark as to where they saw the team’s standing as for all the values. Very quickly we had gathered an interesting amount of data on how the team saw themselves.

I had envisioned the mean of each value would be the interesting part of the data, however the team saw a lot more value in the outliers.

While the mean gave a rough idea of where the team actually was on a particular value the outliers pointed to events that were most useful for action. We could quickly find an example of where the team had really excelled in communication and then try to see how we could help it come about more often. Or indeed, where the team had done incredibly poorly in respect.

Returning to Values

A second use for this method has also come about from using it.

We have a record of how the team felt about itself at a given moment. If we return the exercise regularly we can build up a picture of how the team has changed over time.

This graphical representation of the team is easily brought back into retrospectives. The team can see the real improvements  they’ve made in how they treat each other with respect. Or they can see the impact a new team member has had on openness.

For me, this secondary function has had great success in allowing teams to understand the progress they’ve made. Especially when they are struggling with where they are today. It gives some perspective to them.

Photo by Luc Viatour