Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done.

Software projects aren’t successful because you used the coolest management tool or the newest framework; they are successful because the people working on the project get the job done. A mentor of mine is fond of saying “if you put the right people on the bus and give them the wheel they will get you where you want to go.”. From what I have seen, this is very true.  If you get a group of highly motivated and talented people and give them a common goal then you almost can’t stop them from being successful.


Agile Practice 5.1 – The Pyramid

The point of Agile is to improve team performance while reducing project risk.  But, it doesn’t replace good old team building.  So, let’s review the basics of a project team.

A high-performing team starts with a Goal.  If the team doesn’t have a common goal then everything else falls apart.  Project work makes this a little simpler because the team can rally around a successful project outcome but that means you need to define what “successful outcome” means and build a consensus within the team on the definition.  I like to review the project Goal at every team planning meeting.

Once everyone on the team knows that they are all working toward the same goal, the team will start to trust each other.  Side projects and hidden agendas need to be actively removed from the team to foster this trust because trust is earned, not given.

When you gather a group of passionate people and give them a group task conflict is a natural result.  The team members will disagree about how to best achieve the goal and that conflict should be encouraged and guided.  Be careful to avoid arguments, but a free exchange of ideas that could potentially help the project achieve the goal should be considered normal for the team.  As a team leader, you need to guide these discussion and make sure they are Forward Focused on the goal.

Coming through a conflict with a positive outcome is critical to the team’s overall success.  Once the a conflict decision is made the team must go forward with One Voice that is unified in agreement.  It is hard for an executive management team disagree with a project strategy when everyone on the team expresses the same opinion and has the same voice.

This consistent voice and strategy will lead to those executive managers empowering the team to execute their strategy.  With this empowerment comes Accountability.  My mentor was fond of saying “we’ll all cross the finish line together, be it first place or last place.”

Once a team is empowered and focused they can achieve high performance in a way that is both sustainable and impressive.

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