Magic Chemistry of Teams

George Dinwiddie has posted his notes from one of my AYE 2008 sessions, Magic Chemistry of Teams.

During the session, I asked people to draw a time line that represented their experiences working on teams, then, working in small groups, identify the factors that were present on high-point teams and low point teams.

Here’s a partial list of factors present on low-point teams (posted on George’s site):

no vision
bad results around us
bad fit of skills & interests
alone
angry boss/poisonous environment
no common location
lack of appropriate tools & equipment
specialization
One Jerk/personal conflict
lack of respect amongst team members
absent leader
lack of face-to-face contact
lack of clear priorities
judgemental leader
loss of team members
blame/shame
team too big

Notice how many items on this list relate to how the team is established: vision, location, skills fit, priorities, tools and equipment, team size. These are all within management’s responsibility.

If there is a clear vision, clear priorities, necessary physical environment, the right number of people with the right skills, then it’s more likely that the items on the “high point” list will emerge:

common goals
clear goal/vision
clear role/expectations
new/novel/learning
presence of great skill
self-organizing
ritual
team members value each other
good humor
ate together
camaraderie
appreciation
recognition
trust
passion
friendship
flow

Too often, managers throw a group of people together and declare it a team. Calling a group a team doesn’t make it so. It takes work to establish an environment where team work will emerge.

(It takes collaboration skills on the part of team members, too, as in Secrets of Agile Teamwork, coming up in February.)