06 March 2011

Team Intelligence & Tectonic Shifts

Tectonic shifts have become the norm. To cope with tectonic shifts, collaborators might do well to consider
  • Environmental Adaptability,
  • Direction & Approach, and
  • Team Intelligence.
Environmental Adaptability

Smart, adaptable & flexible buildings have a better chance of riding out earthquakes.

The same is probably true for people & organizations. That is,
Building, person, or organization – Rigid will likely fail.




The shake-table simulation of building structures (shown above) demonstrates a powerful innovation in building technology called base-isolation. The materials in both buildings are the same, but the material weaknesses (e.g., tensile strength) of the building on the right are isolated from the sudden shifts of the shake-table.
Software development teams benefit from isolation from extraneous churn and irrelevant chatter.
Rigid materials and rigidly constructed building materials, as well as baking in a rigidly un-adaptable approach to environmental conditions, like tectonic perturbations, increase the chances of failure.
Adaptability is not imitation. It means power of resistance and assimilation.
~ Mahatma Gandhi

Direction & Approach

I learned sailing in a Sunfish. I never graduated beyond a Sunfish, but I learned to jibe.
A jibe is a maneuver where you steer the boat, which is moving in the same direction as the wind, so that it arcs the stern through the prevailing wind resulting in the wind pressure shifting from billowing out one side of the sail to the other.
My intent in navigating the Sunfish might have been to sail from shore to the deepest part of the lake. That required tacking – a back-and-forth series of intermediate and indirect jibe maneuvers.




The sailing lesson in tacking is applicable to software development teams
Stay true to your direction, but remain adaptable & practical in your approach.

An intelligent team, while adaptable, continually checks and confirms direction.

Team Intelligence

Six-time NBA champion Michael Jordan on teamwork
Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.
Team intelligence requires determining a direction and staying true to that direction, all the while remaining adaptable & being practical in approach.

One way to spread team intelligence is to be vocal about the "gotchas" encountered. Another is to graciously accept guidance from teammates. Yet another is to be vigilant about checking and confirming direction.

Summation

Be a student of conditions - study and anticipate environmental conditions. Check your approach and confirm direction. Look for ways to spread team intelligence. And remember, in all likelihood, rigid will fail.