Do your teams follow a defined process in doing their work? Many of the teams I work with are using Agile or Lean processes: Scrum, Kanban, User Stories and others.

When a team first learns a process, they work at following the process as defined. Following the process means the team will have integrated the basics to provide a foundation for moving forward.

The danger is, the team gets caught in trying to conform to the process. The focus is put on trying to do it ‘right.’

Teams can easily fall into a trap. The team can become so focused on trying to do the process ‘right,’ that they stop working on improving.

Watch out for teams who conform

Teams are closest to the work and know where there are inefficiencies. However, teams who are conforming will be dealing with inefficiencies, miscommunications and more.

Signs a team might be trying to conform include:

  • You hear “we’re just following the process.”
  • Improvements rarely focus on how they’re working
  • Planning meetings are boring and too nice
  • The metrics have been stable for a long time
  • The team always delivers

Time to disrupt the status quo

The team might need a little help to break through any resistance and get to the next level. Conforming can feel safe as it’s easier to blame someone or something when things go wrong: “Don’t blame us as we were following the process.”

There is, of course, no one way to help the team break through their status quo. I’d recommend you start by examining how your words and behaviours are holding the team in their status quo.

Are you anchoring their mindsets? Are you asking for metrics which prove they follow the process? Have you criticized them for a failure?

Each week ask the team what they’ve learned and improved in their work. It does not matter how small a change; any improvement is still an improvement.

One step at a time.

You’ve got this.