Teams don’t live in a vacuum. Every team is an intersection of boundaries of all sorts of organizations. Organizations facilitate teams to a greater or lesser extent. In the workplace, the employer’s organization will have the most significant impact on how teams form and perform but it is not the totality. Other influences can affect the structure and performance of teams. In the short run, many organizational factors are difficult and slow to change (not impossible).  Many of the behavior factors noted earlier in this thread might be an affectation of the organization. A few of the most critical attributes to consider are:


Most outcomes in software development and information technology are reflections of team activities. Whether coding a new function or provisioning a server people work together to achieve a goal. The great majority of these collaborations yield positive results; sometimes the results are even extraordinary.  The team or teams doing the work have a HUGE impact on the results.  A coach or a guide needs to be able to read the tea leaves so they can help teams improve. In Teams: The Heart And Soul Of Work, I identified three categories of attributes of good teams. They are:

  1. Skils,
  2. Behaviors, and 
  3. Organization.

In the SPaMCAST 644, we talk teams. At the core of agile is the belief that the team is the fundamental building block of work. Because they are so important, organizations put tons of effort into helping and guiding teams. The problem is not that teams aren’t important or that we aren’t working hard to make them better, teams are still chronically messed up. We discuss a framework for guiding support for teams. 


Collaboration is not easy. If we start with the premise that collaboration is important, even critical, why does it often fail to emerge or wither on the vine? This is not a rhetorical question. Knowing what can break collaboration is just as important as understanding the prerequisite. Four of the most common ways collaboration gets messed up include:


The Software Process and Measurement Cast 626 features our interview with Jacob Glenn.  Jacob and I began talking about custom software development and then branched into entrepreneurship and leadership. Finding and enabling people are critical skills for building solutions.  


I recently interviewed several successful technical entrepreneurs. Most have created multiple successful organizations. They have shared several common threads. One of the most basic of those threads is the need for a collaborative culture. Jacob Glenn, President of M Genio (SPaMCAST 626 posting on 17 November 2020) said that he hires people to fit in a collaborative culture. Collaboration is a powerful tool yielding results that include increasing innovation, employee energy, creativity, and productivity. Because the promise is so large, people apply the term to many scenarios where it doesn’t belong. Two of the scenarios that are often confused with collaboration are:


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The SPaMCAST 597 features a special panel of leaders discussing working from home now and after the initial reaction to being remote has worn off. One of the important points that we discussed was the need to make space for intentional serendipity. The panel is composed of Paul Laberge, Susan Parente, John Voris, Jo Ann Sweeney, and your host. 

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The SPaMCAST 593 features my interview with Scott Crabtree. Happiness at work might sound squishy, but happiness has rigorous science behind it. Simply put, happiness yields better outcomes both in terms of value delivered and our own perception of our value. (more…)

Effective teams exhibit a number of common characteristics.  In an earlier article, we identified four critical attributes.  

  1. Members actively support each other so the team succeeds as a whole.
  2. Teams actively interact and communicate.
  3. The team has a common goal.
  4. How work is performed.


Teams are more than names on paper!

Teams are to agile as the atom is to classic physics. In our article, “Simple Checklist: Are They A Team?”, we began exploring what makes a bunch of people into a team by establishing seven basic questions that need to be asked about behavior and organization. Once we have established that a group of people are a team, it is important to establish what predicts whether a team will be a good team. In order to avoid my cognitive biases, I asked 10 Scrum Masters, managers of Scrum Masters, successful entrepreneurs and Released Train Engineers; that is, people that are highly skilled at working with teams.  Four categories of attributes that emerged (in descending order) are: (more…)