How We Completely Turned Around Silo Mentality in Just 3 Months
A: “Hey! I wanted to talk to you about the importance of testing our stories and how it helps us know when something is truly ‘Done.’ I know sometimes it may seem like testing is a separate responsibility, but it’s actually a crucial part of everyone’s work.”
B: “I get that testing is important, but it’s the QA’s job.”
A: “That’s a common misconception. Here’s the thing: testing isn’t just QA’s responsibility; it’s a shared responsibility among the entire team. Let me explain why this matters.”
B: “I’m listening…”
A: “Testing is not just about finding bugs; it’s about ensuring the quality and reliability of the results we deliver. For example, when we define the ‘what’ and ‘how’ to test upfront, we’re essentially setting the standard for what ‘Done’ means for a task.”
B: “I see. Okay, this makes sense. But I’m not the expert, I don’t know how to define tests effectively.”
A: “That’s a valid concern. It’s all about collaboration. QAs can help you come up with the strategy, and they will verify the final results. Throughout the process, you’ll improve your testing skills. Learning to define good tests is not only beneficial for our product but also for your professional growth. It’s a valuable skill in our industry.”
B: “I guess I hadn’t thought of it that way. But still, why should we make the effort when it’s the QAs who do this best?”
A: “Our goal is to follow the principle of shared responsibility for product quality. What this means is we all contribute to making sure our product is top-notch. When everyone in the team focuses on what and how to test something before even starting the implementation, we’re giving voice to each and everyone’s perspective, clarifying requirements in the best possible manner and aligning around what ‘Done’ means for a task.”
B: “So, it’s about working together and delivering quality software. Why does this come up now?”
A: “Remember the last time that critical bug slipped through production, causing us to rush providing hotfixes and putting out fires with our clients? By reaching a consensus on the criteria for task completion and putting better testing practices in place, we could have caught that issue early in the development process, avoiding all the frustration and headaches for everyone. It’s all about learning the lesson and taking action to make sure we prevent this situation from happening again.”
B: “I see your point. So, it’s not just about offloading the responsibility to QA; it’s about us ensuring we deliver quality results as a team.”
A: “Exactly! Taking ownership of testing benefits both us and the whole team. It’s about delivering better software, and I believe you can excel in this aspect of your work. Let’s pool our efforts to make this work.”
B: “Alright, I’m willing to give it a try. I appreciate the explanation and support.”
If you’re frustrated by the silos within your teams, and you wish you could break down these barriers and foster better cross-functional collaboration, you have to start the conversation.
I appreciate your desire for team members to take personal responsibility for the team’s outcomes. But here’s the thing: that’s not how they’ve been taught.
People have been taught that they need to improve their individual performance. They’ve been taught that they have to compete with each other for a higher bonus. They’ve been taught that this is the way to climb the corporate ladder.
Instead of allowing your frustration to surface, take a stand and initiate the conversation. Lay out the facts, be reasonable, and lead by example.
Encourage everyone to speak up and share their opinions. Be patient. It took us about 3 months to get to a place where silo thinking was no longer a thing. By all means, it’s not going to be an overnight shift in perspective; however, your efforts will pay off in the long run.
I’ll see you next week same time and place for more managerial insights!
Meet the Author
Sonya Siderova is a passionate product manager and a driving force behind Nave, a Kanban analytics suite that helps teams improve their delivery speed through data-driven decision making. When she's not catering to her two little ones, you might find Sonya absorbed in a good heavyweight boxing match or behind a screen crafting a new blog post.