Many people have heard the helpful tip by Bill Wake “INVEST in a user story: Good quality user stories should be Independent, Negotiable, Valuable, Estimatable, Small, and Testable”.
In my opinion, this can apply to so many aspects not just user stories. If you want to be a good quality team leader, INVEST:
- Independent: Understand that teams outperform individuals but you can’t get to team without strong individuals. , Autonomy and being independent is a strong motivator for many people. Find ways to support not just the team but each individual. Find ways to reward the team and also ways to recognize individuals without taking away from the team. You may have to get creative as a leader and that’s your challenge to conquer.
- Negotiable: The one thing I can guarantee is something is going to happen. Sometimes you can see it coming and sometimes the unexpected occurs. Your value as a leader is not in preventing issues but helping people adapt faster to change. This takes the mindset to truly embrace that almost anything is negotiable. Things happen. They need to learn and you need to be willing to help them learn.
- Valuable: I tripped all over this one. Helping a team not miss a deadline…that’s value for the customer: hence I should always step in and help when I see an issue coming. Yes, there is value for customers/end users. Unfortunately, this action meant that I owned these problems and their solutions…and that doesn’t scale. If you want to see true customer/user value go through the roof, a team leader should focus on the value for the team not just the customer/users. Choose long term benefits over short term costs – it’s valuable.
- Small: Have a target goal in mind and then implement baby steps towards it. For one, this allows for you to reflect and change the goal if necessary (sound familiar?). Two, change is scary and unsettling…mini experiments help lower the barrier to gaining the ability to be highly adaptable. Sometimes we are so quick to respond with the attitude “it’s all or nothing”. In my experience, it doesn’t have to be. Get innovative and find that small step; you might just be surprised how many steps can actually be taken.
- Testable: REFLECT, REFLECT, REFLECT. What worked? What didn’t work? WHY? You can’t expect others to embrace continuous improvement, if you don’t. You will have plenty of opportunities that bomb miserably. The key is understanding why so you can evolve and better invest in the next person/team/situation.
We make so many things complicated but the reality can sometimes be very simple…INVEST in yourself, teams and customers/users. Respect that investments take time to build and get stable. Respect that investments always need support and sometimes direction. Respect that it can be absolutely exhausting to INVEST but completely worth it.
What have you done to INVEST?