Develop Self-Directed and Autonomous Software Development Teams
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How to Develop Self-Directed and Autonomous Software Development Teams

With the recent shift towards autonomy, software development teams form a necessary cog in the wheel for most organizations today. The results produced by the organization are dependent on the services of the development team and the motivation they bring to the floor every day.

Since their work is mostly creative and requires autonomy and freedom, software development teams should best be allowed to work in their groove in a manner that best suits their industry. The autonomy they generate can be put into core projects to derive actionable results.

Offering autonomy to your teams, especially the software development team, is no mean feat. It is not a decision you can take overnight to get the best results possible. You cannot just walk into your organization one day and ask everyone to make decisions by themselves. The creation of the right culture of autonomy comes through effective decision-making. The first step in the process is to create behaviors you can sustainably set in the long run.

In this article, we take a look at some of the best tips you can follow to develop self-directed and autonomous software development teams in the workplace. The tips here will help you in the long run and will give you a good sense of direction for the future.

Lead Through Intent

The very first tip to follow for managers when leading a software development team is to lead through intent. Software development managers should provide an environment where team members can make decisions on their own without having to look at their bosses or colleagues for information. The team members can also give feedback if they disagree with anything.

Intent based leadership has worked in multiple industries and has the potential to deliver the goods in software development as well. The leadership style demands employees and developers to think on their own when faced with a challenging task rather than run to a manager and ask them for guidance.

This leadership style can be achieved by providing exceptional autonomy to all team members. Team members should know that regardless of the decision they take, their opinions will be respected and given the weightage they require.

This technique can enable everyone to take a decision for the future. It also prepares team members who can head toward leadership roles in the future. The technique allows organizations to drift away from the typical hierarchy and make quick decisions when and if needed. Teams have the liberty to function even when the boss is away.

Start Finishing

As a manager, you should look to build a software development team focused on completing work before starting new work. Finishing the existing work on your plate is always better than taking on new work. The more work you have in process, the harder it will take for you to deliver value on each project. More work in progress usually means that attention is all over the place, and you aren’t able to deliver the value that you would want in the long run.

This technique can prove to be beneficial in the following ways:

  • You will deliver exceptional value to the clients you are currently serving without understating their needs in anyway.
  • You aren’t burnt out by the overwhelming presence of new products.
  • You can remove hindrances that block your progress and replace them with alternative action.
  • Deliveries are predictable.

Also, employees are better able to put their experience and skills to use if they have a limited number of projects to deal with. To many projects will mean that they aren’t able to exercise autonomy in the way they would want to.

Make Your Work Visible

Collaboration is an extremely important part of the job for software development teams. Software development teams should be able to prioritize collaboration, which includes visibility across the board. All work should be visible to all members that are concerned with the progress of the cycle.

A team can be truly autonomous in their work if they have a safety net they can rely on. When all work is visible to all members of the team, then teams can work confidently and autonomously, knowing that stakeholders can come to their rescue if the need be.

Your team may lose its alignment when there are no signs of collaboration between members inside and outside the team.

Share Responsibility

All members of the team should hold responsibility for the work in progress and should hold each other liable for the work they put in. No one person inside the team should be tasked with determining the success of the team. Instead, it should be a mutual effort to unearth true autonomy.

When all team members take responsibility of a project, they can work towards bringing each other’s experience and expertise together to get the best outcomes possible.

Determining the architecture of a project can be a gruesome task and requires shared responsibility and management among all members.

Maintain The Right Pace

As a manager, you need to make sure that your software development team maintains the right pace of operations. You should make sure that all members are performing to the best of their abilities and also that the pace of operations is sustainable for the future.

Going for extreme effort from each member can derail operations and lead to a number of problems in the process.

The speeds you set for your team should identify the mental health complications that come with too much work. Overworked employees will eventually compromise work and head to other companies, which is why you need to prioritize employee well-being.

Conclusion to Develop Self-Directed and Autonomous Software Development Teams

The tips mentioned in this article can be helpful for developing an autonomous team inside your software development department. The team will eventually fire on the right cylinders and get you the results you desire.

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