Creating great teams is hard enough when everyone is local and shares the same office space. In Global Teams, members come from different countries and cultures and many times also work together from different locations. In these teams, communication easily deteriorates, misunderstandings ensue and collaboration suffers. The solution here is to consciously define the why, how and what of a great team and a great product. In an ideal situation the team comes together at the start of the collaboration for a two day Kickoff session during which the foundation of greatness is laid. At DevOn, we call this a KickON.

The KickON – day one

Day one is the team definition day. On this day, the team comes up with three deliverables and a bond. The morning activities are all intended to get to know each other and to learn about each other’s culture and values. We use activities like the Personal Map or Journey Lines to get to know each other on both the personal and professional side. Also, we do a Cultural Awareness session with the help of the Culture Map by Erin Meyer. The eight dimensions of the Culture Map offer a framework to talk about cultural issues that could influence collaborating optimally in a cross-cultural team. I addressed the need to create cultural awareness and the Culture Map in my previous blog.

Why?

In the afternoon, the team gets into translating each team member’s drivers into a vision for the whole team. The vision is a sentence that inspires and fulfills all team members to go to work every day. I use the Golden Circle to give the team members understanding on why awareness of the “why” is important to be become a great team. All team members explore their “why”, why they do what they do. From this inspiration, the team members work together to formulate their statement on why their team does what it does. When the team goes through phases of difficulty or unclarity, the vision provides them a common ground to continue.

How?

Then the teams works on aligning the values. We use the model of Patrick Lencioni on “The five behaviors of cohesive teams.” This team dynamics model gives the team direction in the behaviors of cohesive teams. In other words, it helps the team to reach its objectives. Also, this model gives insight in what behaviors are dysfunctional, those are not helping the team. Looking at the Golden Circle, the creation of values is the ‘how’. Values are actionable and help the team realize their why. The values are delivered as the second important deliverable of the first day: a Team Manifesto. A team can use this as a guideline on what behavior is expected from the team members. It is also a means to hold each other accountable to behavior.

What?

Third deliverable are the Working Agreements in which the team aligns around means of communication, methods of collaboration and ways to share information. Part of this is for instance deciding on the meeting structure and timings of the meetings. Also decisions on who will travel when and how to deal with dependencies are part of this session.

The day is closed with a dinner with the whole team in a restaurant that serves the food of at least one of the countries represented in the team. Sharing food and drink helps in breaking the ice and creating a bond in the team.

The KickON – day two

Day two of the KickON is focused on the product that a team is going to build. Involvement of the Business Owners and Stakeholders is required here to add the needed value in this session. A vision of the product is created through a Product Vision Board of Roman Pichler. This Canvas facilitates the team to formulate a target audience for the product. It also forces the team to think about the problems the product solves and the benefits it will provide. Furthermore, it lets the team answer questions around how feasible it is to develop the product and how the product will benefit the company. The team will define a Minimum Viable Product and a Value Stream with the input of the Business Owner and Stakeholders. Based on this clarity, the product backlog will be created and prioritized by the Product Owner.

After these intensive two days, on the third day the team can start creating the first sprint backlog in their first sprint planning meeting. And two weeks later, the first value will be added to the organization.

Often, it takes effort to convince a customer to spend the two first days on a KickON session. Initially, they think it will be a waste of time. Time they could have spent building the product. At DevOn, not doing this KickON is not an option and many times the customers agree to it reluctantly. Afterwards, I always get the feedback that they never expected the two days to be so well spent and often they give back that they feel the trust and commitment within the team and within the customer-supplier relationship is largely dependent on the KickON.

Would you like us to help you set up a KickON? Don’t hesitate to get in touch!

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Dianne Elsinga is Global Team Expert at DevOn. For a decade she has been involved in the adventure of setting up the connection between Agile teams in India and customers in Europe. Over the years she has gathered many do’s and don’ts in building great global teams that develop great products. This resulted in the development of the Global Team Framework. This framework offers training, consultancy and an assessment that gives you direct insight in the current state of your global team with regards to health and happiness and provides you with suggestions to improve your team’s performance.

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