A Few Thoughts on Teams 🤔

Aug 25, 2023 2:27 pm

Happy Friday,

I haven't forgotten about you. I've been busy with my other venture, reko.day, beekeeping, and summer vacation!

I saw some excitement on LinkedIn the other day as some friends started hyping up a webinar that didn't look interesting to me at all. I'm naturally a skeptic, so it's pretty hard to get excited about anything someone promotes on LinkedIn.

Nevertheless, it got me thinking about what topics I would feel like I could do a webinar on or specialize in. I know the answer, but I've always struggled to communicate about it.

I'm really good at building agile teams. When I tell people about what the teams are like that I build, they don't believe me. I will even offer a legitimate cash bet or a money-back guarantee on it!

Yet, I struggle to talk about it.

So, I wanted to explore a little in this email what qualities or attributes I'm targeting in the teams I build. All of these qualities are from teams I've built in the past. None are aspirational.

  • Teammates are invested in each other - It's amazing how many teams I've worked with that don't know anything about one another even after years. My teams know one another well, seek out one another's strengths, and rally to avoid weaknesses.
  • From selfish to selfless - Most teams are just a group of people tasked to work on the same thing. A real team exists when everyone believes that who they are together is more important than who they are themselves. They put the team's needs before their own.
  • Healthy conflict - A lot of teams and groups have some strong personalities and long-standing grudges. My teams grow past those obstacles. There will often be disagreement, but because there is a sense of belonging to this shared team, they work through it instead of against each other.
  • Fearless - My teams lose any sense of fear in their organization. They will take on the biggest problem and the hardest projects and will confront any group they need to move forward.
  • Proactive - So many teams try to delegate out working with others or communicating with other groups. My teams know they're the best equipped, and so they show up personally to work with other groups.
  • Consistent Improvement - Most groups have retrospectives with little change or improvement to show. My teams, by contrast, want their team to be the best it is, and will put in the work to improve, abandon once-sacred rules, and experiment.
  • Self-Manage - This isn't a quality that eliminates the need for good management, but my teams can handle quite a lot of management work on their own, from organizing themselves and their workload to even resolving interpersonal conflict.
  • Driven - My teams have a purpose in their team, and it gives them motivation to keep going down a path to being the best. This shows up in retrospectives, attention to quality, partnerships with product, and holding one another to that shared purpose.

There's more I could write, but I think that's long enough. What I'd be curious about is if you've also seen teams like this or if there are qualities here that are confusing. I didn't write about metrics or the consequences of creating teams like this, but maybe that'll be in an upcoming email.

One last thing is that if someone has the question in their head, "How long does it take to build a team like that?" The answer is less than three months.