A team that never was

You cannot build a team merely by replacing “me” for “we” in communication. You won’t get there either by placing people in one room and giving them a common name. A team is much more than a group of individuals sharing the same space and some characteristics. What binds a team is spirit, not labels.

A team:

  • shares a common goal, which must not be a vague statement like “customer satisfaction” or “top quality”. Instead, it has to be a plain, concrete, down-to-earth target like “delivering version 10.1 with killer feature Banana Split by the next holiday season.” To get there team members have to:
  • share work, not receive their own tasks, and submerge in them for 3 months without anyone else around knowing. Members must operate together, like a Navy Seals expedition - switch posts, cover each others’ backs, communicate regularly to keep everyone informed of the common progress towards the established goal, as well as encountered risks and problems.

A leader’s role in team building is defining and distributing work in such a way, that naturally requires team cooperation to achieve goals. Ideally, failure to cooperate should result in failure of the whole team. Remember the movie “300”? Leonidas explains to the deformed Ephialtes how Spartans fight: as a single, impenetrable unit. Arm to arm, fighting the same enemy, protecting each other. That is team spirit.

I make software. And other things. Mostly in Warsaw, Poland, from wherever there’s an Internet connection, power outlet and fresh coffee. I love to read and learn how the world works. You should follow me at @mpaluchowski.

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