Team Work

Aligned skills will promote a team effort.

Skills and culture matter!

Setting up a team is not a simple task. Modern managerial training often postulate that a team of very different people will be superior to a team of people being alike. 

This might work for a team with plenty of time to "learn as we go". This might also be a good tactic, when the task is not known beforehand. The team will likely have a least one person on board with usefull skills and knowledge for whatever task may lie ahead. If you were to stay on an island for a month would you rather go with ten different people, or would you prefer to go with - say - ten geeks?

However, when it comes to doing real work at high speed and quality, we need something else. Who would like to see a team of randomly selected people play football? Ofcourse we need players, not just people. Yes, there are differencies on a football team too. They have goal keepers, defence, attack and more. Nevertheless, the team must consist of players with a basic set of skills in terms of physics, techniques, style, tactics, experience, group behaviour and more. Moreover these skills must not be just any skills. They have to be aligned in order to promote a team effort. 

Likewise with software teams. It is usually extremely difficult to make people with different mindsets work together. All team mates may have the same three years of education and two years of practice and even still, if they have different  ways solving problems, different ways of thinking, different ways of finding solutions, they will often wind up discussing instead of working. 

It is amazing what can be discussed. One should think that if the problem is defined, it would be straight forward to solve it, but no. First we must discuss how to work. Then we must discuss what the problem is. Often people see different problems in a situation due to different (trained or untrained) ways of problem approach. Then it is often time to discuss the nature of the solutions and after that we will discuss what solutions is the better, faster, cleaner or whatever solution. 

Now, we are almost ready to start building the solution, except we need to discuss how to work again. It's been so long, and we all forgot and noone took any notes, and who are they to tell me how to work. After that we have the details of the actual work to discuss. It is really a matter of pink or blue, vanilla or strawberry, but rest assured that developers will want their personal style to prevail at all costs, - even your companys life. 

.. to be continued.


Reality bites

A colleague once sent me  this story. I am still wondering if he was referring to the project we were on at that time or not. In any case, it's worth reading.

On a group of beautiful deserted islands in the middle of nowhere, the following people are stranded:

Two Italian men and one Italian woman
Two French men and one French woman
Two German men and one German woman
Two Greek men and one Greek woman
Two English men and one English woman
Two Bulgarian men and one Bulgarian woman
Two Japanese men and one Japanese woman
Two Chinese men and one Chinese woman
Two American men and one American woman
Two Irish men and one Irish woman

One month later on these stunning islands, the following Things have occurred:

One Italian man killed the other Italian man for the Italian woman.

The two French men and the French woman are living happily together in a menage-a-trois.

The two German men have a strict weekly schedule of alternating visits with the German woman.

The two Greek men are sleeping with each other and the Greek woman is cleaning and cooking for them.

The two English men are waiting for someone to introduce them to the English woman.

The two Bulgarian men took one long look at the endless ocean and another long look at the Bulgarian woman and started swimming.

The two Japanese have faxed Tokyo and are awaiting instructions.

The two Chinese men have set up a pharmacy / liquor store / restaurant / laundry, and have gotten the woman pregnant in order to supply employees for their store.

The two American men are contemplating the virtues of suicide because the American woman keeps on complaining about her body, the true nature of feminism, how she can do everything they can do, the necessity of fulfillment, the equal division of household chores, how sand and palm trees make her look fat, how her last boyfriend respected her opinion and treated her nicer than they do, and how her relationship with her mother is improving.

The two Irish men divided the island into North and South and set up a distillery. They do not remember if sex is in the picture because it gets sort of foggy after the first few litres of coconut whiskey. But they're satisfied because at least the English aren't having any fun.