The Need for Teamwork

Photo by Scott Maxwell

Photo by Scott Maxwell

I had lunch yesterday with some former coworkers, and I was reminded of how easily a team can be broken down.  I firmly believe that teams can produce astonishing results beyond what they could achieve as a group of individuals, but in order for that to happen, the team needs to be self-organizing--the team decides how it will accomplish its work.  There is still management, although it may look quite different from how an organization has previously managed people, and some thought must be given to who is on the team.  Esther Derby has a great post here about self-organizing teams and managers.  The pressure cooker method of forming teams seems rather typical in my experience, and it's not very effective.  The group may be able to get work done, but there will be struggles along the way.  Sadly, those "teams" lead to articles titled "Why Teams Don't Work" (which actually is a great article, by the way).  A team needs a well-understood goal, it needs to be clear who is on the team, and they need to be able to learn how to work together effectively.

Back to my lunch, my former coworkers grew into a strong team when I worked with them.  Since I left, their goals have become less clear (and too many), the team has multiplied with the addition of offshore developers, and their superpowers ability to self-organize has been lessened.  But because they had formed a strong team previously, they are not taking all of the changes lying down: they flex their team muscles and adapt the way they work to best fulfill their immediate goals.  Someone tries to change how they work, and they push back gently but firmly.  They look for opportunities for individual and team growth, and they take them.

Are organizations scared of teams?

Allison Pollard

I help people discover their agile instincts and develop their coaching abilities. As an agile coach with Improving in Dallas, I enjoy mentoring others to become great Scrum Masters, coaching managers to grow teams that deliver amazing results, and fostering communities that provide sustainability for agile transformations. In my experience, applying agile methods improves delivery, strengthens relationships, and builds trust between business and IT. A big believer in the power of community-based learning, I grew the DFW Scrum user group significantly over the five years I served as an organizer. I am also a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach, a foodie, and proud glasses wearer.