Know your teams stack

One of the greatest challenges and biggest differences between traditional project management methods and agile methods is the reversal of the “Us and Them” attitude that existed between traditional project managers and programmers versus scrum masters and development teams.

I have seen many developers in waterfall projects frustrated, angry and alienated by project managers. From the programmers perspective, the PM’s don’t really care what they do or how they do it so long as the deadline is met. Its not about quality, teamwork, collaboration, camaraderie or delivering great software. Its about a date on a timeline.

By its defined structure and roles the Scrum framework goes a long way towards attempting to remedy this attitude. However there are always more actions we can take in order to further this effort and unite the team at a higher level.

I believe that one such method is to commit to learning more about the tools, techniques, languages and environments in which the team is actively developing.

While you don’t have to become a code ninja (though it’s great if you do !) I always think it’s worthwhile to at least familiarise yourself with world the developers live in.

The goal here is not about being able to contribute as a coder or to offer architectural suggestions.

It’s about showing your team that you are truly invested and that you want to know as much as you can about the journey you are on together so as to serve them better.

Investing some time in learning the basics of the development environment will:

  • Give you a little more insight at the planning stages.
  • Help you understand more when stories are being broken into tasks.
  • Enable you to engage in spontaneous technical discussions.

You might also find that you have greater accuracy and understanding when:

  • Translating technical issues from your team to the business.
  • Removing technical impediments.

In my experience, the majority of development teams appreciate this level of commitment and enthusiasm and will often enjoy watching your journey, especially if you pick a pet project to demo for them.

Just remember not to overstep your mark. The goal is a foundational knowledge to understand terminology, architecture and idiosyncrasies of a language or technology.

Your not there to be the next rockstar programmer, your there to facilitate the team and guard the process. But, the more you understand the world in which your team is operating the better equipped you will be to ensure their success.

Originally published at