Stephen Smith's Blog

Musings on Machine Learning…

On Teamwork

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Forming teams and having them work effectively together can be a big challenge. Some teams are necessary just since a job is too big for one person to do, so a team is formed to break the job up and solve/implement it together. Often these sorts of teams comprise of members with the same background like programmers or QA.

Another sort of team is the cross functional team. These are often formed from people with diverse backgrounds. The mandate of these teams is often to add creativity to solve a problem. To find unique approaches that perhaps a single function team or individual would never consider. Often these sorts of teams are locked in a room for extended periods to brainstorm. To work collaboratively together to come up with a new type of solution to the problem. Often the team has a facilitator rather than a leader to keep the discussion going. Whether this team eventually implements the solution or passes it off to a more traditional implementation team is determined once the solution is known and the task breakdown is known.

In agile devleopment, developers are broken up into “scrum” teams. Small cross-functional teams that stay together and move from problem to problem as a team. Usually these teams consist of one or two people from each of: Product Management, Programming, Business Analysis, User Centered Design and Quality Assurance. Here the Product Manager usually acts as the “customer” from agile terminology. The idea of keeping the team together is to allow it to jell. It is important that for the team:

1. It is every member’s day job to be on the team. This is their primary job responsibility and their number one priority.

2. Every member wants to be on the team. They aren’t forced or strong armed to be on the team.

3. That the team can collectively replace members that aren’t working out.

4. That the team is self-managing. There isn’t an external manager managing them. All management comes from within the team.

The hopefully this can become a very high performance team, that works together to solve a great many problems over a long period of time. That they can be a creative team that comes up with innovative solutions and that they then can work together to implement the solutions they have come with. A teams develop, what they are good at can be observed and then the jobs most suited to them can be assigned (or they can lobby for). Generally this can lead to a very dynamic exciting work environment that is also very rewarding since all the team members get to participate in the creative input and share in the reward of completing the job.

Written by smist08

April 20, 2009 at 12:03 am

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