Category Archives: workbox

Book recommendation: “Creating great teams” by Mamoli and Mole

Here is a new, interesting, informative and easy to read book on forming teams. “Creating Great Teams: how self selection lets people excel” by Sandy Mamoli and David Mole takes the reader step by step through the process of building teams by enabling them to self-select.

This book is based on the “belief that people are at their happiest and most productive if they can choose what they work on and who they work with” – an appealing theory, but does it work in practice? The authors do not just present a theoretical construct, they describe a case study of an organisation where they were successful in implementing the self-selected teams method, and they discuss their fears, problems and blockers honestly, showing how they overcame obstacles. The refer to other organisations that have used the method, and provide qualitative and quantitative evidence in terms of anecdotes, results of staff surveys and company results.

The book is divided into short chapters, starting with an explanation of the ideas, then step by step through planning and preparing for self selection, the self-selection workshop, and importantly, the followup required to implement, launch and support the new teams. Each chapter provides checklists, guidelines, hints and tips, and practical experiences.

So – what is self-selection? When teams self select, instead of managers assigning people to teams, the teams choose themselves. Given the projects that are required, the people within the organisation choose which project they want to work on.

I was lucky enough to meet Sandy at Agile India 2017, and when she described the method to me I was excited by the concept, but at first sceptical. I could see problems: what if there were project no-one wanted to do? What if everyone wanted to work on the same project? What if there were people no-one wanted in their team – wouldn’t it all be a bit like sports lessons at school (where I was always chosen last…)? Sandy & David show in this book that they faced the same doubts, and they show how to overcome them. Happily, rational, intelligent adults react well to responsibility and choice.

In this review, I will not go into detail about the methods they use and the checklists they provide. I urge you to buy the book! It is really good value and will make you think anew about how you build teams.

ISBN 978 1 68050 128 5

https://pragprog.com/book/mmteams/creating-great-teams

Get it, read it, think about it, notice the effectiveness of the working method.

Quilting and hacking

Two blogs to which I subscribe had new posts this week, and they just fitted together:

Now I know sometimes I can be a little obsessive about the analogy between sewing and IT; the need for a workbox, the need for new ways of using old methods, the way the projects are similar… but I urge you to read them both and compare.

A project works when you understand the materials you are working with, how they fit together, and how you can modify them. Repurposing happens with fabric and with code. Hacking can be a good thing – with code and with fabric. But you need to understand the pillars for success. The Googletesting blog suggests to me:

  • refactoring old code so you can reuse it
  • consistent formatting giving¬†patterns that you can follow and
  • use of structure and architecture to hold everything together

Knitnkwilt suggests to me

  • working with what you have got by¬†reusing/repurposing old things
  • using a consistent pattern framework to hold the design together and
  • enhancing the old with new structure/fabric.