PMI-ACP Study Notes: Domain IV Team Performance

Domain IV Team Performance

[NEW! For the 2015 July PMI-ACP® Exam syllabus] The PMI-ACP® Exam consists of 120 questions which can be categorised into seven domain. The fourth domain: Domain IV Team Performance is the knowledge about “creating an environment of trust, learning, collaboration, and conflict resolution that promotes team self-organization, enhances relationships among team members, and cultivates a culture of high performance” (source: PMI-ACP® Examination Content Outline).

Domain IV Team Performance accounts for 16% of all questions in the PMI-ACP® Exam (i.e. ~19 questions among 120 PMI-ACP® Exam questions)

According to the PMI-ACP® Exam Content Outline, Domain IV Team Performance consists of 9 tasks grouped within 3 sub-domains:

Team Formation

  1. The team works together to establish ground rules and processes to strengthen sense of belonging and create a shared goal of the team members.
  2. Form the team with members who posses all the necessary skills (interpersonal and technical) to deliver the intended outcomes and values of the project.

Team Empowerment

  1. Create a high performing team in which members can perform as generalizing specialists carrying out cross-functional tasks.
  2. Empower team members to make decisions and to lead in order to create a self-organizing team.
  3. Understand motivators and demotivators of the team and individuals to ensure high team morale.

Team Collaboration and Commitment

  1. Make use of collaboration tools and colocation to enhance communication within the team and between team and stakeholders.
  2. Shield the team from external distraction and pressure to ensure performance.
  3. Align the goals of the project and the team members with a shared project vision.
  4. Measure the team velocity by tracking work performance in previous iterations to allow more accurate forecasts.

PMI-ACP® Study Notes: Domain IV Team Performance

Below is a collection of the key knowledge addressed in Domain IV Team Performance and the 9 tasks related to the domain:

  • [The Agile Manifesto] Individuals and interactions over processes and tools – i.e. in Agile project management, the team members and their interaction are considered far more valuable than following pre-defined processes or toolsets.
  • [Agile Principles] Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project / Build projects around motivated individuals / Agile processes promote sustainable development / Self-organizing teams / The team reflects on how to become more effective
  • Team Formation Stages
    • Tuckman model (Tuckman’s stages of group development)
      1. Forming – the team is formed, everyone behaves independently
      2. Stroming – disagreements arise between team members
      3. Norming – team members accept each other by emphasising the team goal
      4. Performing – the team is highly motivated and efficient
      5. Adjourning – tasks completed
    • At stage 4, the team is considered to be most efficient and best performing. However, not every team goes through every stage of the Tuckman model, some may stay at stage 2 and jump to stage 5 without going through stages 3 and 4.
  • Building Empowered Teams
    • Agile teams are, ideally, highly motivated by practising self-management and self-organization. The organization gives the Agile team a high level of trust.
      • a team is “a small number of people with complementary skills who are committed to a common purpose, performance goals and approach for which they hold themselves mutually accountable” ~Jon Katzenbach and Douglas Smith
    • empowered teams are:
      • self-organizing: since the team has the best knowledge about the project and is in the best position to organize project works
      • self-directing: the team can make their own decisions, not to be directed from the management
      • empowered team is more productive and efficient than teams with top-down decision making
      • mutual accountability and collective project ownership promote empowerment so that the team work as one whole
  • Tabaka’s model for high-performing team
    • self-organization
    • empowered to make decision
    • belief in vision and success
    • committed team
    • trust each other
    • participatory decision making
    • consensus-driven
    • construction disagreement
  • High Performing Team vs Low Performing Team
    • maximize performance by
      • clear and realistic goals
      • building trust
      • open and honest communication – even in case of disputes or conflicts
      • taking ownership, empowered, self-organizing
      • coaching and mentoring
      • choose teammates with complementary skills to perform all tasks
      • sense of belonging (identity)
      • limiting each team to have 12 members or below, break down the team if needed
      • make decisions through consensus (participatory decision model)
      • full-time, dedicated members
    • low performing teams are:
      • absence of trust
      • fear of conflict
      • lack of commitment
      • avoidance of accountability
      • inattention to results
  • Team Participation
    • The whole project team would discuss in details about the requirements of customers through face-to-face communication:
      • Brainstorming – everyone can voice out their opinions freely without immediate judgement
      • Innovation games – games are used to engage the team members and customer, e.g. 20/20 Vision, the Apprentice, Buy a Feature, Product Box, Prune the Product Tree (reference: Innovation Games: Creating Breakthrough Products Through Collaborative Play by Luke Hohmann).
      • Parking lot chart – a piece of paper to put important but off-topic issues / queries for later investigation / discussion, e.g. in requirement gathering
  • Two-way Communication
    • Agile project management emphases feedback as feedback can help reducing mis-understanding and risks and generate better ideas.
    • Communication must always be two-way, all the parties are given the opportunity to voice out their concerns and points of views
  • Cross-functional Team
    • a group of people with different functional expertise working together toward a common goal
    • often function as self-directed teams
    • members must be well versed in multi-tasking as they are simultaneously responsible for various functions
  • Agile Coaching and Mentoring
    • Coaching and mentoring are needed to help steer the team in the right direction:
      • coaching– help achieving (personal / organization) goals
      • mentoring – pass on skills, knowledge and experience
  • Agile Leadership Style: Servant Leadership
    • traditional leadership and management emphasizes on command-and-control (i.e. Theory X – workers are lazy and need to be monitored closely)
    • servant leaders will lead by serving to ensure the needs of team members are met and roadblocks are cleared [i.e. servant first, leader second mentality] (Theory Y – team members are self-motivated)
    • an Agile servant leader needs to:
      • protect the team from interference, distractions and interruptions
      • remove impediments to the team’s performance
      • communicate and re-communicate project vision – maintain a common vision to drive the team to perform
      • carry food and water – i.e. provide all the resources for the team to perform, including motivate the team, provide trainings
  • Important tools/processes/concepts to enhance team communication:
    • information radiator – a communication tool to physically displays key information about the current project status to the Agile team/stakeholders in the work area in the most visible and efficient manner, e.g. Kanban boards
    • team space – prefer all team members to be collocated in the same room facing each other for pro-active support, free discussion, open collaboration, tacit knowledge sharing and osmotic communication. If physical co-location is impossible, can make use of virtual co-location tools (e.g. instant messaging, video conferencing, etc.)
    • Agile tooling
      • these are tools to promote more effective communication (e.g. reduce roadblocks for collecting, maintaining and disseminating information)
      • types: low-tech high-touch tools, digital tools
        • low-tech high-touch tools are preferred because these tools can promote collaboration and communication and everyone knows how to participate
        • Examples:
          • co-located teams:
            war room and/or a dedicated conference room (walls filled with information radiators like whiteboards, billboards, post-its, charts, task boards, etc.)
          • distributed teams:
            virtual shared space using digital tools (wikis website, instant messaging – Skype, web conferencing, etc., online planning poker – an estimation tool of user stories, card meeting – a brainstorming session using 3×5 index cards, version control – a tool for version control for configuration management, e.g. CVS, CASE tools: reverse engineering tools to generate codes from designs, other Agile tools for building/configuring/deploying deliverables)
    • osmotic communications for colocated and/or distributed teams
      • team members in a co-located space can overhear conversations/discussion of other members
      • the team members will be able to extract useful parts from the conversations or to join in if necessary
    • daily stand-ups
      • daily stand-ups are a time-boxed (~ 15 minutes) and focused meeting to be held at the same time and in the same place for all team members to do a quick update on the project
      • stakeholders may attend but are not allowed to talk during the meeting
      • Each member answer the following 3 questions:
        • What have you done since last meeting?
        • What are you planning to do by next meeting?
        • What impediments (obstacles) are impacting your work progress?
  • Motivational Theories
    • Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs – five levels of personal needs, from the fundamental at level 1 to the ultimate need at level 5
      1. Physiological
      2. Security
      3. Social
      4. Esteem
      5. Self Actualization
    • Herzberg’s Hygiene Theory
      • satisfaction (motivators): such as recognition, achievement or personal growth
        • these are key factors to make team members motivated
        • salary is not an effective motivator
      • dissatisfaction (demotivators): such as bad working conditions, unfairness, etc.
        • hygiene factors are factors that must be present to avoid dissatisfaction but do not provide satisfaction, also called KITA factors
          • e.g. Company policies, supervision, relationship with supervisor and peers, work conditions, salary, status, job security
    • Expectancy Theory
      • an individual will decide to behave or act in a certain way because they are motivated to select a specific behavior over other behaviors due to what they expect the result of that selected behavior will be
        • for a person to be motivated, efforts/performance/outcome must be matched – will only work hard for achievable goals
      • key elements of Expectancy Theory
        • Expectancy (extra work will be rewarded)
        • Instrumentality (good results will be rewarded)
        • Valence (the individual’s expected reward)
  • Productivity
    • both velocity and throughout can be used to measure the productivity of a team
    • Team Velocity
      • Velocity is a capacity planning tool used in Agile project
        • usually defined as the number of story points that are completed in an iteration
      • Velocity usually increases gradually over the first few iterations as the team becomes more “performing” but stabilises afterwards as the product becomes more complicated (more bugs, more documentations, more dependencies, etc.)
    • Cycle Time and Throughput
      • Cycle time is the time necessary to get a single item of work done from start (idea) to finish (as a shippable product that delivers value)
        • Cycle time can be reduced by shortening iteration time (breaking down task sizes), limiting Work In Progress and reducing wastes
      • Throughput is the number of things that can be done in an iteration
      • Cycle Time = WIP / Throughput
      • Defect cycle time is the time between defect injection and defect remediation, the shorter the defect cycle time the better
  • Emotional Intelligence – people with higher emotional intelligence (E.Q.) can relate to the feeling of people so that they deal with people issues more effectively
    • According to Higgs & Dulewicz, emotional intelligence includes seven components
      • Self-awareness
      • Emotional resilience
      • Motivation
      • Interpersonal sensitivity
      • Influence
      • Intuitiveness
      • Conscientiousness
  • Negotiation
    • [The Agile Manifesto] collaboration over contract negotiation
    • communicate with two or more parties to reach an agreement and resolve conflicts
    • Negotiation strategies
      • Distributive negotiation: adopt extreme positions initially and work to reach a deal through tactics (the assumption is value is limited, everyone needs to fight for the best value they can get)
      • Integrative negotiation: work together collaboratively to achieve greater successes by creating more values for a win-win solution (value can be created)
  • Conflict Resolution
    • conflict is inevitable and is good for project success when controlled
    • focusing on turning conflicts into a win-win situation, often need to make use of emotional intelligence and active listening
    • conflict resolution tactics:
      • [x] Accommodation – identify points of agreements and play down disagreement
      • [x] Avoidance – ignore the conflict
      • [x] Compromise – both sides to give up something, a lose-lose situation
      • [x] Forcing – force one side to accept something, a win-lose situation
      • Confronting – open dialogue leading to problem resolution, a win-win situation
      • Collaboration – work together for mutually consented solution

Summary: Domain IV Team Performance

This PMI-ACP® Exam Study notes covers the fourth domain: Domain IV Team Performance of the new 2015 PMI-ACP® Exam syllabus. Domain IV accounts for 16% (~19 questions) of all questions to be found on the PMI-ACP® Exam.

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Edward Chung

Edward Chung aspires to become a full-stack web developer and project manager. In the quest to become a more competent professional, Edward studied for and passed the PMP Certification, ITIL v3 Foundation Certification, PMI-ACP Certification and Zend PHP Certification. Edward shares his certification experience and resources here in the hope of helping others who are pursuing these certification exams to achieve exam success.

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  1. Siva Rajkumar says:

    Dear Edward
    Thanks for the blog and keep it up to date with all information related to PMI-ACP. It helped to revise the concepts before my exam. Keep up the good work!


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