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Ensuring that the entire team is involved in major feature discussions and decisions – Part 3

In the previous post (problems when not all team members are involved), I wrote about issues that arise when all the team members are not involved in the decision making, such as lack of common understanding about some of the issues that went into the discussion, more time spent during discussions, and the more serious case when a different understanding caused defects to pass through because the understanding of the factors that went into a discussion were not clear. People can say that such events do not happen, that team members are involved as part of the discussion and decision making; however, in some cases the organization culture is such that the development team (or more senior development team members) get involved early in the decision making and other team members come in when most of the discussion has happened or the decision has been made and communicated. In some cases, this decision where only a few people are involved is not deliberate, instead it happens mostly by accident where a discussion happens briefly between the people directly involved, and this decision can then happen without involving everybody.
As described in the previous cases, it is necessary to ensure that the team members are all involved in decision making; this ensures that they all contribute to the discussion and decision, that they all have the same understanding, and there are no morale issues involved with team members feeling left out. As an example, in a specific case, it was a certain junior team member who had tested the feature thoroughly in the previous cycle who could enumerate all the possible scenarios, and this in turn led to a discussion that considered all the possible scenarios, saving a ton of rework that would have happened if that particular team member had not been involved.
One way that we worked out how to ensure that all team members knew of decisions, and if some particular discussion was happening where the team member needed to be involved was through the use of an email list. We created specific email distribution lists for different features, and all the team members involved in a particular feature discussion were added to the email distribution list. Once this list was created, there were initial discussions in the team where we discussed the need for these email lists, enumerated the problems that could occur and convinced all the team members to use these email lists when there was a feature discussion.
Once we started going down this route, it soon turned out that there was a lot more involvement of everybody in the discussion process, and when we surveyed the teams after another 1 month, we found that everybody was appreciative of the email lists and the discussions were far more animated. However, it turned out that there was one byproduct, more email, and how to handle that is another problem that we will handle in another post.

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