Emphasize Success and Progress in (Distributed) Agile Teams
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Emphasize Success and Progress in (Distributed) Agile Teams

Every time you solve a tricky problem, release new features or fix a nasty bug: this are moments of success and progress and such moments are valuable!

I think emphasizing and celebrating achievements is quite important for software development teams but often gets lost in the daily routines. A situation where this is increasingly the case is in distributed teams that are spread over multiple locations where team members are collaborating remotely.

Therefore we recently introduced a new way to visualize success in the distributed team I am currently part of: We introduced an “Achievements” channel in Slack (our team communciation tool). Every time something noteworthy is achieved it is posted into this channel, be it a personal achievement or progress made as a team. There are no strict rules of what exactly belongs in there and everybody is allowed to post something if he or she thinks it should be mentioned:

  • When a new version of an App was released
  • You fixed a bug that haunted you for weeks and nobody could find
  • A milestone in a project was completed
  • Some design or prototype was finished and is ready to be realized
  • A product reached the tenth/thousandth/millionth customer

So why are we doing this? Generally this tool serves multiple purposes:

  • Tell colleagues about something you have accomplished
  • Inform other teams about the progress of your team or project
  • Provide a summary of what happened in last days or weeks
  • Motivate colleagues by success stories and that there is constant progress in your team / company
  • Generally spread information to (remote) team members

In our distributed team this is working well and everyone is actively participating. Not only does it spread information and motivation between locations but it also provides a timeline of success stories. This way you can regularely look back (e.g. in Retrospective meetings or in team gatherings) and see all those smaller steps that happened over a certain period of time.

That is why I think such a tool is not only beneficial in distributed teams but is as well suited for co-located teams. It does not matter if you use Slack or one of the other new group communication tools like Microsoft Teams or the new Google Hangouts - it just is a great and simple way to (more permanently) visualize success and create motivation.

Advice: Try and keep the channel as clean as possible. IMHO it should just contain original entries and not lengthy discussions or a lot of “Yay” “Very nice” “I like that” comments - those things are just messing up the clarity and lose the “step after step” feeling. (If you use Slack then show how you feel about something with the reaction feature or if you want to talk about it use threads or take it to some other discussion channel)