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Knowledgeable team Health Monitor - Team playbook. How to ensure your team benefits from using Knowledge in a right way

Aleks Yenin

It seems all companies understand that the power is in teams, not individuals. People in a good team complement each other’s skills, knowledge, experience, and personality traits.

Ok, you probably have a team, and you probably go for lunches or even drink beer/coffee together, you know your colleagues’ kids names and they share pets photos. And you think that you are good as a team. But how good are you? The first intention to prove you are good, especially if you are a mature development team, apparently will be a demonstrating your velocity charts and impressive trend growth.

Jira typical Velocity chart with growing velocity trend 

If we can show something like that it proves that we are quite a mature team, at least we respect Scrum Ceremonies, we do estimation and planning, we can predict future features delivery.

Why is a Team Health Monitoring important

A team can show nice performance figures in reports but it’s always important to understand what is going on inside it. Are the members motivated enough? Do they understand their team goals? Is leadership strong and effective? What is their collaboration inside the team and with external partners and customers? Will it be a disaster if half of the team leaves tomorrow? What are your efforts on a new team member onboarding?

So I propose to dig deeper. A few years ago Atlassian introduced Team Health Monitors, I liked this approach of self-assessment, the checklists with several questions for a project team and a service team. I’d recommend to take a look there and give it a try. I used to have a very nice experience using this way of running teams in different companies.

At the same time, I am very interested in knowledge management and think that it’s very important to self-assess also how knowledgeable we are as a team. For me, it means that we generate, share enough knowledge to support and improve all our processes and projects. Having proper knowledge management in the house will make any team much more productive, it decreases onboarding time and efforts, improves collaboration, especially for service and operational teams. It helps to close incidents faster, predict incidents, perform service requests faster, and with better quality.

Knowledgeable team evaluation — Background

We need to set supporting procedures for the knowledge management life cycle and evaluate how we execute these procedures and how they help our team. Typical steps are:

  1. Generate knowledge
  2. Store knowledge
  3. Share knowledge
  4. Use knowledge
  5. Review / archive / actualize knowledge

Knowledgeable team evaluation — Checklist

Team member onboarding

There is structured and complete documentation on all team systems and processes. A new team member can quickly understand all the required stuff to execute his/her responsibilities from the first day.

Incidents solving (for ops teams)

Within the processes of incident management/incident response there is a mandatory step to check the Knowledge Base for instructions and to use them if possible. Also, there is a mandatory step to create a new KB article when lacking the information or enrich the existing article when it’s not actual.

Maintenance instructions

Each maintenance procedure is done according to the existing step-by-step instructions.

Sharing

Team members have procedures and tools to share existing and newly generated knowledge with their team and with other teams. Team members know how to find information that is owned by other teams.

Actualizing

There is a periodical automated procedure when process owners review existing documentation, actualize or archive content

Content structuring and differentiation

Team uses best tools for every particular use case and every type of content to ensure the content indexed and searchable and stored in a structured way according to confidentiality levels.

Knowledgeable team evaluation — Procedure

  1. Set the series of periodical team meetings (we typically do once per 2–3 months) for a team of 3–6 people. If you have a bigger team — get it split.
  2. Discuss the options from the checklist above trying to form productive and engaged discussion and evaluate each option as Healthy, Bit Sick, Sick.
  3. Set overall status for the checklist for this time: Healthy, Bit Sick, Sick.
  4. If you got split into sub-team, compare your results with the other sub-teams, choose a sub-team champion, and let the champions discuss sub-teams results to form one collective opinion and report.
  5. If you have a number a “Bit sick” or “Sick” items, pick a couple of them to be focused on improvement until the next review meeting.
  6. Create a post-actions list, assign actions to team members, and set a deadline for improvements.

I normally use Confluence template and then a page to track meeting minutes. Example of Confluence page containing Knowledgeable Team Health Check report:

If you are interested in trying this approach, please contact me directly, I will be glad to send you an MS Word file which can be imported as a Confluence page containing this report.

Any other questions, please private message me.

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