Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Promote Teamwork over Politics

Excerpted from Cutter's Enterprise Architecture advisory service. Five strategies for improving teamwork:

  1. Build cross-functional teams. IT teams, in particular development and maintenance teams, should be cross-functional. Each team should have a variety of people from different professional backgrounds, including business stakeholders. Technical team members should ideally be people who are already generalizing specialists or at least willing to become so. A generalizing specialist  with one or more specialties, plus a general software process knowledge, plus a good knowledge of the domain that they're working in, plus a willingness to collaborate with and learn from others is far more effective. This is supported by Larry English's work in information quality transformation -- one of his 14 points is to break down barriers between staff areas 

  2. Promote non-solo development. Doing IT work is a lot like swimming; it's very dangerous to do it alone. Agilists have discovered that both quality and productivity increase when people work together collaboratively, often in pairs. Agile methods include practices such as pair programming and modeling with others to enforce this approach. When people pair together, and particularly when they swap pairs regularly, they learn new skills, get the job at hand done more effectively, and build better bonds with their coworkers.

  3. Promote training, education, and mentoring. One way to improve teamwork is to ensure that people have a wide range of skills and thereby can relate to the issues that their coworkers are focused on. When developers understand the fundamentals of data architecture, management, and governance, then they would likely recognize the value that data professionals have to offer and would more likely be able to find ways to work with them effectively. Similarly, if data professionals understood modern development techniques and methods, then they would be in a better position to work in a more responsive manner.

  4. Promote explicit team-building workshops. They're a bit goofy, but my experience is that workshops that are specifically focused on team building can work wonders (although I'm still not that sure about those exercises where you fall backwards into other people's hands).

  5. Break bread with "those other people." It's amazing how quickly you'll build bonds with someone over good food, good drink, and good conversation.

Hat Tip to Dennis Crowley for these points !! I have always found that breaking bread and drinking wine is THE most powerfull Team builder effort. Dont take em out for dinner and drinks just to celebrate, rather just hang out together and watch a foot ball game or play pool or something like that once every two weeks.  Better still is to have a Pot luck once a month- its amazing how they all work out something to  feed themselves !! Once they learn to feed each other literally, they also learn to feed the project too :)-

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