Your Own Superhero Team – Team Habits

So you’re a Scrum Master, business owner, manager or any other kind of a leader – and you’d like your team to be able to conquer the world. Or just deliver products and services your clients will love. Welcome to the first of series of articles designed to make your journey easier. Today, we’ll tackle the robotic aspects of your team.

Are you into some team sports – football, basketball, volleyball, anything like that? Think of the best team you know, one that raises the bar beyond reach of all others. If you’re not into this kind of entertainment, simply ask around – then choose the most popular answer. That is, unless you surround yourself with local sports club hooligans – but then you wouldn’t be reading this article.

Got the team? Great. Now, spend few minutes or so, on watching them playing – YouTube or Vimeo should do just fine. Make notes about how they play.

Even if you’re not familiar with the particular sport, you should notice one thing. For perfect team, things just happen. Somehow, right players show up at right places to perform right actions. You cannot see any deliberate planning or synchronization. Both of which are often simply impossible, due to extreme dynamics of the situation. It’s almost like magic.

Then it’s everything but magic.

That’s the imprinted, repeated reaction to a specific cue. If teammate on position A does B, you do C. Specific situations are analysed, broken down, and rehearsed during training. Thousands of times. Then, the moment the trigger is activated, you start doing your part. And that’s without even thinking about it or realizing that!

It’s the same mechanism that decides the sequence of actions you perform every morning. One that allows you to commute mindlessly, the same way, every single day. One that decides how exactly you wash your teeth.

Automated response to imprinted scenario is what we call habit.

Competent sport coaches teach their teams the rules. Good ones teach tips and tricks. Great ones design and foster habits.

As each of us has thousands of them, from tiny ones to those defining our personality, so do teams and organizations. Generally, every concept composed of creatures of habit, has habits on its own.

Now, for a few weeks, observe the habits of your team. Spot triggers and reactions. When e-mail arrives in team mailbox, they do A. When new bug arrives on their task board, they do B. When they come to work, they do C (which clearly stands for Coffee, at least in IT).

Some of these habits are great. Some are close to meaningless. Some are devastating.

Spot them, share with the team, ask them to look around themselves!

Which puts you one step closer to growing the team to conquer the world.

As for next step – modifying habits – I’ll cover that next week. Stay tuned!

Are You The Sixth?

There are several rules that decide the origin, highlight, and the ultimate fate of every society. There’s the commonality of values, however temporary that may be, deciding it’s appearance. A set of people brought together for whatever the reason, though deciding to stay together far enough the needs of survival, defined in myriad of ways. Then there’s the bright spot – a society rises, grows, and ultimately outshines every other around, attracting all kinds of decent folks, along with freeloaders and some plankton.

Then, as it inevitably fades, it reaches state of stability. Low enough not to become a spot on a radar for big sharks, big enough to thrive. Hey, have you thought about the people around you? Your closest circle of friends.

What are they like?

Seriously, sit there for a while and figure out what it is that defines your inner circle.

What are they like? What is it that defines them? What are the core beliefs that hold them together?

Really, write it down.

Got that? Now it’s going to get harder.

Look at the things you figured out. If you average them out, they will quite accurately describe the actual reality of one person.

That person is you.

There’s a reason for that. Being a ultrasocial species, we seek acceptance above everything else. Whatever role we currently play in the society – father, mother, single at particular age range – there are things our inner circle expects us to do. Everyone outside it expects everybody within to adhere to adequate set of rules.

The system scales up indefinitely, to encompass whole mankind, though that’s irrelevant.

Thing is, subconsciously, you will attempt to comply to rules of your inner circle. Ever heard of all those idiot kids doing the dumbest things imaginable? They do it for the very same reason for which you’re buying a flat on a 40-year mortgage, an enormous size TV set, and get a new car every four years. Odds are, you need neither of these.

Though everyone around has them. Darn it!

And as you might thing I just made my point, I’m not even close.

Career-wise, how far up do you think all these people in your inner circle might get? Executive status? Start-up owner? Just a regular Joe?

Whatever your circle is, you will attempt to keep up with them.

  • Hang out with the winners, winners you shall be.
  • Hang out with the average Joe, average Joe you shall be.
  • Hang out with losers bringing you down, a loser bringing others down you shall be.

There’s the old saying:

“If you hang around with five idiots, you will be the sixth.”

Now, let me state the obvious. It is cruel. Some people just aren’t cut for big wins, epic achievements, and coming victorious out of the greatest of risks. And that’s perfectly okay. There’s nothing wrong with this.

As long as you make a conscious choice.

Now, look around you again. Do you think these people will help you go up, or bring you down to the level of their acceptable mediocrity?

Just don’t be cruel when making cuts. It’s not their fault they feel complacent. It’s not your fault you don’t. It’s just the fact of life.

Look around, make your choice, cut mercilessly.

Don’t be a sixth idiot. Unless, obviously, you want to. That’s your choice.