Business Chemistry on Agile Teams

business chemistryThe importance of Team Cohesion and Business Chemistry are rarely discussed amongst agile team members.  By increasing Team Cohesion awareness on agile teams, agile teams learn to collaborate more respectfully and gel quickly as a team.

Team cohesion is the degree to which individual team members want to contribute to the group’s ability to continue as a functioning work unit. Cohesiveness develops over time out of interpersonal and group-level attraction, through collaboration, and as a result of a sense of belonging.

So how do you build Team Cohesion?  Team Cohesion starts when you select your team members… each team member selected has a unique personality and offers wisdom, but the team needs to fit like pieces in a puzzle.

Each team member has their own personality and strengths… and weaknesses.  The key is to understand this upfront so that you can capitalize on the team’s strengths and work on turning the weaknesses into strengths over time.  Remember that Team Cohesion is created over time, it just simply does not happen overnight.  With each interaction between team members, Team Cohesion is slowly created. Increased awareness of each team member’s collaboration needs helps build Team Cohesion faster.

To aid with Team Cohesion, it is important to understand each team member’s business chemistry.  If this is known upfront, imagine how easy it would be for team members to collaborate.  Team members could then tailor their communication to how the receiving team member could understand and hear it.

Deloitte has a wonderful tool called Business Chemistry.  They realized over time that there were four basic personality types often found on teams and they created 20 questions to determine which personality type you are:

 business chemistry wheel

Each personality type offers a unique set of strengths and weaknesses… the goal is to build up the scrum team so that it is balanced.  The diversity will help build a stronger product.

While everyone displays a combination of traits from the four Business Chemistry
patterns, most people align closely with one—and sometimes two—of the
above types.  Do you know the personality of each team member on your Scrum Team?  Does each team member know how to tailor their communication towards each personality type?
Pioneers are very visual.
Drivers like logical reasoning.
Integrators decide by consensus.
Guardians love statistics and numbers.
If not, ask each team member where they feel they are on the above wheel… or better… take the Business Chemistry test!
I took the test and I am equally split between a Pioneer and Driver with a touch of Integrator…   Having this awareness helps me again tailor my communication to team members who are not Pioneer / Drivers.  By tailoring my message, team members can support my ideas and needs because I took the time to consider how to present ideas and needs in a way that they can relate.

For more information… go to CFO Program Business Chemistry.

team cohesion


Got Game?

uxb_gamesGames and simulations really help collaboration teams experience first hand the challenges that crop up on agile teams… whether you have a team that needs to work better at communicating or you have a team that is struggling to think out of the box… Games can help bridge what words cannot.

As part of your collaboration arsenal, don’t forget to have a few games planned during formal collaboration sessions… these games will help the team see with their heart and really help teams grow.

Below are a few of my favorite games to play during collaboration sessions that are in person:

Having a healthy balance of work/play allows teams to grow together and mature.


Subject Matter Experts – Maximizing Collaboration Time

uxb_smeThe goal with Collaboration should always be to gain more insights and to refine existing insights.Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) are golden.  But their time is even more golden and that is something that needs to be respected.

Each time we collaborate with our Subject Matter Experts, as Business Analysts, we need to keep the session focused on a small set of stories.

Collaboration is great but it can be better when collaboration goals and topics are framed properly.  For example, if you are collaborating with your Subject Matter Expert in person, bring your tool kit:

  • Sharpies of different colors
  • Whiteboard Markers
  • Fidget toys
  • Stickies/ Postits
  • Index Cards
  • Masking Tape
  • Flip Charts

Also help the SMEs visualize the decisions they need to make by having a small set of slides that you can project on the wall and manipulate as the collaboration gets going.  Let the SMEs know ahead of time what information you are looking for them to bring to the collaboration sessions.  During the collaboration sessions, ensure alignment among all SMEs at each step in the collaborations even if that means not moving forward until everyone is on same page.

Collaboration in an Agile way is all about conversation over process, but if you apply a light structure and scope to your collaboration sessions, you will maximize productivity and ensure collaborations are productive.

A stressed out SME results in missed insights.  Look for ways to reduce stress and show empathy.  Ensure that your collaboration sessions are not the reason for the stress the SME is experiencing.