Agile teams do best when each team member is able to feel and act like part of the team and the team acts as a whole. Agile teams should always foster a whole team mindset rather than that of a sub-team. Some businesses operate separate sub-teams, such as a programming sub-team and a testing sub-team. But this is not usually best. Instead, agile teams should act as one team, keeping everything out in the open and not feeling as though they should work in private groups or teams. Teams that act as one include all roles in each sprint meeting – from planning to reviews, daily scrums, and retrospectives. If you do not see how crucial a whole team mindset is in order for your innovative team to succeed, read on.  

Team Member Identity 

It is important that team members get the majority of their identity from the team itself rather than simply an association with others who have the same skills (such as on a sub-team). Within a team it is okay to have specific roles – not everyone has to be a generalist. It is just important that the identity of each team member comes from being a part of the whole team rather than just a programming team or a testing team.  

For example, look at sports teams. Let’s look at basketball to draw a picture of this concept. A point guard of the Chicago Bulls must think of himself as a Chicago Bull first and a point guard second. He may get together with other point guards on occasion and swap stories but the majority of his success on a team is not because he is affiliated with other point guards and can relate to them. Instead, his success and identity should be attributed to the fact that he is a Chicago Bull rather than the fact that he is a point guard.  

Don’t Exclude the Product Owner 

If a team establishes a rule saying that any type of person should not participate in a sprint because of their role, the team is working against a whole team mindset. Do not exclude a product owner from a meeting because of his role. Imagine a rule that states that programmers cannot attend or team members with brown hair. Rules that say any team member cannot attend for any reason is usually not beneficial.  

The Importance of a Whole Team Mindset 

A whole-team mindset is important for any team to have if the team wishes to perform at the highest level possible. This does not mean that all members of a team are interchangeable or that everyone knows how to perform every level or step. But it does mean that each team member thinks about how to achieve team-related goals first instead of individual or departmental goals.  

As an agile coach, Scrum Master or another agile leader, your mission should be to help your team succeed by achieving a whole team mindset. Discourage any behavior that deters such thinking, such as excluding anyone from a meeting because of their role.