Sunday, April 22, 2012

Teams (a mistake about a mistake)

Jurgen Appelo sometimes gets it wrong. In a recent blog post about teams, he asserts we're "making the same mistake all over" about teams and teamwork.

He writes this nonsense:
Teams are goal-oriented social units (Esther Derby’s definition). Their goal is not just to deliver a project.
  • In an environment with continuous delivery and continuous improvement, it is very unclear what a “project” is! The concept of a “project” seems to me a convenient fiction that enables managers to spend budgets. That’s all.
I don’t know what the real goal of a team is. It depends on the team. But I do know that 3 people working together for only 2 months are probably not a team. They are just 3 people working together.
To that, I replied on his blog:
... you are wrong on all points: Esther's definition is wrong: that's the definition of a group, not a team A team is a higher order than a group, elevated by the collective and individual commitment to the goal. There is no personal success unless there is a collective success.

Yes, three months is quite enough time for a group to form into a team; what is required is intra-group trust to form, and for all three to be all for all; all for one

Yes, a simple project is a project. What's a project? something with a specific start and end that delivers something of value to the customer. Yes, in the IT space, the transition to go-live and operations with follow-on bug fixes sometimes makes the "end" look a little murky, but that's management, not project definition.

For more on teams, read my book that you rated highly on your list of top 100: "Project Management the Agile Way,making it work in the enterprise."
Or, if you don't believe me, check out Glen Alleman's thinking on teams