HBF - Case Study: Team In College? No Problem

Oct 27, 2023 5:27 pm

Happy Friday,

I thought it'd be fun to write a little case study from one of the teams I built. This one is unique in that I didn't follow my 3-month roadmap with them, I stretched it out for about 6 months.

Some fun bits about this team are that it was one of the rare instances where it was a new team with new products. The team was built with 3/4ths of them with no previous work history, and about half were in college actively taking classes. They were remote, one-time zone away, and English was not their primary language.

So what happened? Well, when the team started, they were launched with someone else in charge. Their early performance was virtually non-existent, with one or two work items coming out a month, it not working, and not being what the product owner talked about. Did I mention the product owner was new?

The results? We launched a product from beginning to end in 4 months with zero defects. That ran for 2+ years without a single support issue until I couldn't keep tabs on it. The team could ship a work item within 3.5 days, 85% of the time. We got about 85% done with a second product within another four months and had customers lined up to pay and were actively using it in our development environment because, again, they were bug-free.

The first week of my roadmap was two months. This endeavor was very politically sensitive within my client, and so there was a lot of behind-the-scenes work I needed to prepare.

Once that was done, I moved quickly to get this team going. The point of no return happened twice. The first time the team chose not to take the standards on, and the second time, about a month later, they did. One person on the team refused, and this happens sometimes, but the team was able to manage that effectively. The team had no architectural guidance or UI design for the work they did. They had to figure all of that out on their own. I coached them through how to make those decisions.

So there's a snapshot into a fairly absurd setup. A team of people where this is their first job and half are still in college. They were the highest-performing team in an organization of 500 development teams.