When collaborating using Agile-based methods you get synergies. These synergies are often how Agile is described, such as getting higher quality, faster time to market and being able to respond to change. Without collaboration these outcomes will not happen, so understanding (levels of) collaboration and how to do it efficiently is key.
The Collaboration Model
The Collaboration model are five steps describing maturity in the interactions between individuals, in a team or on an organisational level.
- Competition - Each person has an individual objective. Each person places his goals ahead of those of others. This is the most common pattern that you see, but most of the times it is an unconscious pattern. Everyone in a race is running on the same track, but they do it for different reasons - one wants to win, one wants to beat his own personal record and one wants to get the exercise.
- Conglomeration - Each person has an individual objective. These objectives are aligned such that they are parts of a larger goal, but the goals are independent. The work is executed individually. An example of this are companies that gives bonuses to “heroes”, the firefighters, the ones who fixed something broken, but (not necessarily knowingly) diminishes problem-preventive work.
- Coordination - Each person has an individual objective. Those objectives interact. The teams coordinate their efforts to ensure all objectives are met. The work is executed individually. A parable can be the Formula One team where the drivers actually compete against each other but they have to coordinate when using the single pit stop team. One example from the IT world is a team whose stories in a sprint aren’t connected and every team member works on their own thing. This is often a result of bad project leading.
- Cooperation - Each person has an individual objective. Each person is aware of the people with related objectives and what those objective are. The work is mostly done individually, with people actively doing support work to help each other. People have specific roles and work products move from role to role. A parable is the relay race, where you run your part of the track and everything relies on having good handovers. One example from the IT world is a story that first gets designed by a designer, then gets built by a developer and finally tested by a tester. This is basically true Waterfall. Another example of a cooperation practice is doing code reviews (as compared with writing the code together).
- Collaboration - All people share the same objective, or have objectives that cannot be met without meeting the others. The work is done simultaneously by multiple people with regular and informal trade-offs between people. People have individual talents and each bring their talents to bear on multiple parts of the work. No single part of the work can be associated with any one person. A parable is the rowing team where all of the different roles are sitting in the same boat working towards a shared goal, everyone’s committed and actively participating. This is true Agile. Software development examples of collaboration practices are pair and mob programming, especially in combination with single piece flow where all team members work on the same (and most important) story.