The benefits of an aligned team

I believe in colleagues working, sometimes separately, in an aligned fashion - towards the same end goal. This contrasts with real life however. Individuals aren't always team focused. Many traditional management and human resource concepts are focused on the individual. This isn't a bad thing, individuals have their own needs and wishes. However, sometimes the need of an individual gets in the way of the needs of a team.

So you want examples? Separate QA / Test teams isolated to provide independence with targets such as defects raised. Developers wishing to use the latest tools and techniques on software projects to allow them to gain experience, rather than because they are the right tool for the project. Customers to waterfall delivered projects listing all possibly requirements in an upfront requirements specification because they want to delegate the risk of complex requirements to the vendor.

Wouldn't software development be easier and more fun if customers only asked what they really needed. If testers and developers worked collaboratively towards the simplest and fastest solution to a problem. This is one of key tenets of agile and lean software development.

How to align teams

Well, its easy to understand the benefits of an aligned team. Its obvious that people working towards their own goals, and not that of the team will impair progress. However, it's one thing understanding it, and quite another trying to align them.

The most useful tool in enabling alignment is educating all stakeholders on the importance of alignment, and the core values held by the team. These values commonly include simplicity, gaining the fastest possible feedback and validation from end users and reducing waste such as rework or work with no value. If all stakeholders now understand and are convinced that these values will enable the team to become as effective as possible, then the team will hopefully just need support and the space to explore their roles, contributions and how these can be put together in an aligned way - enabling flow as described in Lean.