A high performing team is something that everyone wants to be part of. Every stakeholder would like to have such teams in her organization in order to boost results and lead the quality of the work produced to phenomenal levels.
However, they are harder to achieve. Much harder than it should be, actually.
To get value out of this article, one should aspire to be a proud member of a high performing team, even if this means leaving personal ambitions aside for a while.
In the galaxy of software-building, problem solving is a daily routine. Unlike math problems and riddles, in software there is always more than one way to solve a given problem. To make things harder, more often than not, it is difficult to evaluate the effectiveness of a solution used to overcome an obstacle.
The key characteristic of high performing teams is brainstorming. The collective IQ of a team may and should be higher than the sum of the IQ of its individual contributors. The outcome of a successful brainstorming session is ideas with a wide acceptance from the team. Those ideas are easier to follow and highly likely to solve a problem efficiently.
Two things to consider are: how an idea’s approval or disapproval affect productivity (or even happiness) and how these two affect the teamwork outcome.
It goes without saying that when a team member comes up with an idea he wants it to be accepted, therefore he tries to convince his fellow teammates for its merits. He defends it with great pride and tries to make everyone agree, motivated by his eagerness for reward.
One has to spend a lot of energy on building arguments over his idea and against everyone else’s ideas. Needless to say that this instinctively triggers others to spend a lot of energy building arguments against the first person’s idea. In addition, when the expected outcome does not occur, the team members end up having wasted energy and time altogether.
How could the brainstorming be more effective?
This might be easier than one might think. All it takes is to detach from ideas. When a team member projects an idea, he should always:
- Appreciate the fact that this idea came within the given time and shape of the group. No idea is a 100% possession of a single person.
- Remember that there is never a perfect idea for any given problem that occurs in the software building world.
This detachment is part of systems thinking approach and makes the team members greater collaborators on brainstorming sessions.
What happens when other team members aren’t willing to move from their ideas?
Well, one cannot control other people’s minds. However,
- Leading by example
- Reminding them of the benefits of a high performing team and
- Having an Agile Coach aid in One on One sessions
may all help to improve things.
What if the solutions above don’t have an effect?
To begin with, most of the times this is because one hasn’t spent enough energy to make it work. But what if she simply feels that it’s not worth the effort?
There’s a simple rule for teams:
Make teams small enough to reduce the chances of having a bad apple.
One shouldn’t hesitate to modify the structure of a team that fails to function properly. For example, when two strong personalities in a team often engage in non-constructive conflict that affects the team’s performance, these two members have to be split in separate teams.
Surprisingly, it’s quite probable that two strong and successful teams will come up from this, just to make one realize that none of these two team members was a bad apple. They just couldn’t work together effectively at this given time.
A person that has participated in 3 teams that never made it to high performance will likely leave a company shortly before that company feels uncomfortable having him on board.
Getting detached from personal ideas is a key point in making one’s team high performing. Additionally, it makes the individual a better listener and thus, a better professional in collaborative environments.
In case all this sounds too distant, I will share this with you: I talk the talk much better than I walk the walk on getting detached from my own ideas. Even after starting writing this article, I got emotionally attached to my ideas at least twice in my team’s brainstorming sessions!