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Agile Team Names: What’s in a name?

Published By Leyna O’Quinn
Agile Team Names: What’s in a name?

In traditional organizations, teams don’t have to think much about their team name, because it’s usually defined by their function: Marketing team, sales team, etc. But Agile team names? Those require a bit more thought.

Choosing a unique Agile team name can be a fun, creative exercise that helps to solidify your team’s identity and reinforce Agile values. But how do you choose a name that’s right for your team — and why is it important, anyway? Let’s dive in.

What’s In An Agile Team Name?

First, let’s talk about why it’s important to choose an Agile team name for your team.

Because Agile teams are cross-functional, team names aren’t as self-evident as they might be in traditional organizations. You don’t have the convenience of having teams that align neatly with a particular function, like marketing, sales, development, etc. Instead, you have cross-functional teams, composed of individuals with a variety of skill sets.

These individuals are working together for a reason — to create more value and provide a better experience for your customers. But without an Agile team name to solidify their purpose and identity as a team, they might not automatically feel as connected to their team members as they would in a team of people with similar background and skills.

Taking some time to brainstorm team names and define your team’s identity as a team can help to unify your Agile team around a shared mission.

There might be more than one Agile team that performs a similar function within your organization — for example, you might have a sales-marketing team that focuses on US customers, and a similar team that focuses on customers in the Middle East and Europe.

If chosen correctly, your Agile team name can help others in the organization to differentiate between Agile teams, and serve as a short-hand for what your team does and why.

Choosing Your Agile Team Name

There are many ways to go about selecting your Agile team name. The most important part is that you make this a collaborative exercise between all the members of your team! You’ll miss out on a great bonding opportunity if one person selects the name for the whole team.

Block off some time on your calendar to conduct a team name brainstorm. Make sure that everyone on your Agile team is able to attend!

It can be helpful to start by brainstorming words and terms that are meaningful to your team. You can start with any identifying features of your team, such as your geographic location, the territory you serve, the industry you serve, etc.

Maybe your team happens to be made entirely of women, or you all share a love of dogs. Anything that bonds you as a team can be used to come up with a team name, as long as it doesn’t exclude anyone.

It’s also important to keep in mind that although Agile team names can be silly and fun, they should still be professional. Although some team members might find them funny, team names that are inappropriate or suggestive might not sit well with all members of the team.

After brainstorming some general commonalities your team shares, brainstorm some Agile terms that are relevant or meaningful to your work. Here are some to inspire your brainstorming:

  • Agile
  • Backlog
  • Cadence
  • Epic
  • Iterations
  • Kanban
  • Program Owner
  • SAFe
  • Scrum
  • Sprint
  • Standup
  • Velocity

For more Agile terms, check out our Agile glossary!

Now that you have a long list of potential words to include in your Agile team name, spend some time trying to find combinations to form your team name! Remember that not everyone thinks best under pressure — so you might consider splitting your brainstorming into two sessions to give everyone a chance to sit with the ideas and allow their creativity to shine.

Once you have a shortlist of potential team names, put it to a vote! A Kanban board can be a helpful tool for sifting through and voting on potential team names. Ask each member of your team to ‘assign’ themselves to the names that they want to vote on. The card (team name) that has the most votes wins!

Finally: Iterate!

Agile teams are meant to be long-lived, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t evolve over time. Perhaps you choose an Agile team name based on an inside joke, but a year later, new members join that don’t feel “in on it.” If your name starts to feel stale, do the Agile thing: Iterate!

If the purpose, function, or makeup of your team evolves over time, conduct another team name brainstorming exercise to select a new Agile team name that accurately reflects your team. Just be sure to alert others in your organization to this change.

Happy naming!

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Leyna O’Quinn Written by Leyna O’Quinn Sr. Content Strategist

Leyna O’Quinn is a Certified Scrum Master and Certified SAFe Agilist. She has been managing the Planview blog strategy for more than 7 years. She writes about portfolio and resource management, Lean and Agile delivery, project collaboration, innovation management, and enterprise architecture. She has more than 15 years of experience writing about technology, industry trends, and best practices. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Business with a concentration in Marketing.