My experience with the agile teamwork approach is that it enhances communication and collaboration between designers, programmers, stakeholders and users. Some of the other observations are:
* Visualisation speeds up the decision making process;
* Wall documentation levels the field;
* It is not always easy to get hold of representative participants;
* The approach ties up team members for days at a time;
* Democratic solutions can be mediocre and contain compromises;
* Using MUI enables team to create realistic interactive solutions;
* Team members become more demanding in the course of the process;
* Clear rules of the game facilitate creativity and decision making;
* The process empowers the participants
* The process results in a shared understanding of problems and solutions.
Some traps and dangers I have experienced using this approach is
* You have to watch out for scope creep, creativity can take off;
* Wallware notations can obscure details, since everything is noted in short sentences;
* It is easy to be sidetracked by unimportant details;
* Strong personalities can side-track the process;
* The team loses faith if the process doesn’t lead to results;
* Challenging participants’ statements can lead to unwanted uncertainty.
Bringing together people from different environments with diverse goals requires planned facilitation to enable proper teamwork, but the team can work to produce results in an agile manner under the right working conditions. The main components of their success are having the right team members, working in a transparent way in workshops and using lo-tech tools to visualise all ideas and decisions.
1. Ghosh, G (1999) Turbo-prototyping: Ultra rapid user centered web development in S. Brewster, A. Cawsey & G. Cockton (Editors): Human-Computer Interaction - INTERACT’99 (Volume II), IFIP press
2. Stapleton, J. (1998) DSDM – Dynamic systems development method – The method in practice. Addison Wesley Longman Limited, Harlow, England
3. Cohn, M (2004) User Stories Applied – For Agile Software Development. Addison Wesley Pearson Education.
4. Cooper, Alan. (1999) The inmates are running the Asylum. SAMS, Indianapolis.
This paper is based on a presentation with the same name - ‘Agile Multidisciplinary Teamwork’ – presented by the author and Øystein Gutu at the Agile Business Conference 2004 in London on 22.11.04.
© Gautam Gosh 2004
Originally published in the Winter 2004 issue of Methods & Tools