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Is Your Development Team Dysfunctional?

Updated: Nov 27, 2023

I put a few characteristics together of the typical low and high maturity teams based on my own observations of super successful and super struggling teams. Number 6 on each list is the quickest way to find out if the team is dysfunctional. Luckily, self-awareness is the first step and all of this can be fixed! Let me know what you think and which team you'd rather be a part of 😉 .

  1. Over-Planning: Teams are spending more time planning and in meetings than building & experimenting. Your developers are spending more time writing docs than writing code.

  2. Internal Feedback Loops: You use exclusively internal management to drive your backlog rather than direct customer feedback. 

  3. No experiments, no customer feedback: You release in big-bang, super-features after many months of internal work and don’t have experiments running to gain customer insights.

  4. Unfeasible Roadmaps: Your team never hits their dates or delivers the roadmap (due to: the developers weren’t involved in creating the roadmap at all, or it wasn’t based on the actual capacity of the teams).

  5. Hierarchy-driven teams: There is a strong team hierarchy and developers are used as “code monkeys” rather than team mates with good ideas.

  6. “Slow” and unhappy 😓 : Teams are just not getting things done, or deemed “slow”. Nobody is excited to a part of the team.

Here are a six characteristics of well-functioning, high-maturity development teams:

  1. Strong team culture: The team communicates often and there’s strong respect between team members. There is a strong cooperation and support for building the best end-to-end solution. 

  2. DREAM (Data Rules Everything Around Me $$ Y’all) 🎶 : Data throughout the feature lifecycle - The entire team owns the KPIs of the product. That goes for the success criteria (why are you building this in the first place) and validating that you're hitting that data well after the feature is released (including quality data). If it’s broken or slow, it’s everyone’s problem.

  3. Solution Building : Ideas and solutions are everyone’s job - The solution is built as a partnership between design, product and engineering - the trifecta.

  4. Planning & Testing: You plan together and document your business case, you prioritize, and you prove your assumptions with time-boxed spikes. 

  5. Estimation & Self-Awareness: Your team has a rhythm and is self-aware. You estimate as a team, you review data to make estimates on past behavior, and you do retrospectives to really understand how to build better products better.

  6. Happy 😀 : Teams are getting things done, releasing often, and people are excited to be there.

Which side do you think your team falls into?

If you'd like to get a free assessment of your team and start working better together, book a call today!


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