You read dozens of books on agile and hundreds of articles, but no one actually told you how to build the team(s) of your dreams. This article changes that.
Understand your audience
Many leaders thinks software professionals are a tricky bunch. This stems from not understanding who they really are and what drives them.
Bringing order to chaos is the job description for a software professional. Engineers connect thousands to millions of logical statements together to solve complex business problems. That's a huge task, and because order brings simplicity, many teams rely on frameworks to help achieve that goal.
With a framework in place, an engineer stops worrying about everything that framework does for them. Your team can focus on solving your unique business problem instead of building yet another solution to an old problem that's been solved hundreds to thousands of times. Data storage, responsive web interfaces, and security are pieces of code teams almost never write from scratch. They rely on frameworks to do it for them.
Look around and identify the mistakes that are being made over and over by your team(s). Do a little research, and you'll find that many other folks struggle with those same issues. Dig a little deeper and you'll see that someone published a "framework" to help other solve that same problem. It's your responsibility to experiment with these frameworks and find the right ones for your team's needs.
Remember, there are no silver bullet frameworks. Every company, team, and product are unique. How in the world can there be one solution to rule them all?!
Here are a couple of my favorite problems, and the frameworks we implemented in response.
Enable & empower
Trust. A simple concept, but seldom executed well.
I always equate the trust you have with your team as a bank account. Others use that analogy to draw a comparison to how easily it is to lose trust vs gain it. I prefer to use it as an example that you must extend trust first. After all, a bank account without an initial deposit is useless.
Most employees bring some baggage from their past. That baggage is usually weighed down by a mistrust for management because of how their previous companies operated. This baggage is your toughest enemy in growing trust, but having awareness that it exists is your secret weapon.
So what can you do?
Build a commercial mindset
Building great software is hard. It's even harder when you don't really know how your project affects the customer or the company's bottom line. How can you make sure the million micro-decisions that happen in a software project are the best ones for those two factors if the team only has a cursory understanding of the customer and the business model?
Partner with the product team, in whatever capacity you can, to continuously educate the team on the "why" behind decisions. Why is this epic ranked higher than that other epic? Why do we bill our customers annually instead of monthly? There are a million other "why" questions that must be answered to build the deep commercial mindset in your team.
Just as asking only questions builds your teams capability and capacity to find the right solution on their own, having a commercial mindset empowers them to make the best micro-decisions possible for your company and your customers.
I'm passionate about this topic, so expect more and more content around this. In the meantime, dig into some of our Meta-Cast episodes centered on leadership. They will give you more insight into many of these topics. If you are really excited to learn more, reach out to us and we'll help you build the team(s) of your dreams.
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