Of "Jelled" Teams

I’ve been at Socialtext for about a year and a half now, and I just realized that so has everyone else on the engineering team; our two short-timers are Jeremy and Audrey, who are just coming up on one-year anniversaries.

And we actually know each other; we can give each other a hard time and actually debate ideas on merit instead of working hard to appease each other. I just read a recent note on the 37Signals Blog to that effect and it resonated with me.

And yet, given a random book on methodology or software management, you are unlikely to find anything on longevity and teamwork besides, if you are lucky, a few cliched team building exercises or perhaps a passing reference to forming, storming, norming, performing.

That’s just … sad. Perhaps it is something /I/ need to start talking about more often.

4 comments on “Of "Jelled" Teams

  1. Matt, a "random book on methodology or software management" is unlikely to cover any specific topic, but there is quite a bit available on successful teamwork. You might be interested in my report of Esther Derby's 2008 AYE session on The Magic Chemistry of Teams for a brief intro. I think that there are more helpful models for teambuilding than what Tuckman provides.

  2. I guess it's not particularly random, but this is from one methodology book (Kent Beck's XP Explained):

    "Keep effective teams together. There is a tendency in large organizations to abstract people to things, plug-compatible programming units. Value in software is created not just by what people know and do but also by their relationships and what they accomplish together. Ignoring the value of relationships and trust just to simplify the scheduling problem is false economy."

  3. Thank you Kerry!

    I seem to recall Pete McBreen discussed that a bit in the software craftsmanship imperative book, as well. And Beatiful Teams will, hopefully cover it well. (I'm pretty sure it's mentioned in "Software Teamwork" as well.)

    So it's certainly there if you look for it (consider the weinberg literature)

    I think i'll do a post or two on culture at Socialtext. If anything, it's more of a reminder to /me/ to cover teamwork more.

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