Teams That Fight... to Win!

I joined the company and my current team about two and a half months ago. Very shortly after I started, I learned or started hearing a couple of things: One really loved backend eng was leaving the company. My eng/tech lead partner actually didn’t want/ask for a PM (me) on the backend team. Once the frontend team was done with their recent launch, that team was going to be combined with the backend team. Two new backend engs are coming on. And the frontend team already has a PM…

So I thought, “Whoa! ‘The team’ is becoming a completely new team. This could get interesting.” ...And it has been interesting in the best possible way!

You know those times when you ask your girlfriend or boyfriend if it’s okay for you to grab a quick drink with your ex, and they say, “Sure. That’s fine.” Then, of course, you go ahead and grab that drink only to later find out that it actually wasn’t fine.

...That’s somewhat like where our team started from: not fully trusting each other; going along with things; and avoiding conflicts even when there was disagreement.

Now you hear discussion and debate over what’s important, how should we approach a change, is there confidence with this release, etc. Beyond the work itself, we also openly talk about each other’s preferences and what works/doesn’t for how we can work better together.

We won’t always get everything right, and we’ll need to keep working hard to keep getting better. But I love where we are and where we’re headed.

                                     The pyramid model from Patrick Lencioni’s The Five Dysfunctions of a Team.

If you’re familiar with The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, which coincidentally the product and design team read just as our Pillar/dev team was coming together, you’ll appreciate some of the specific changes we’ve seen moving up the pyramid:

There’s more openness around when help is needed, which has led to stronger trust in each other, which in turn has led to more healthy conflict--good fights ;) --where we challenge each other as a team… as partners in crime, with the goal to make the right calls and get the best results.