Wednesday, 9 December 2009

5 things that I learnt from the Team

“With this Team I am learning a lot, everyday is a like a new lesson in life” – That’s the morning quote I had to say today when I woke up. It’s amazing that diversified with cultures, behaviours, appearances, attitudes these people are so similar when they are a part of 1 Team... I have no fear to say that a lot of things that make my strengths or are said to be my strengths are actually the contributions of the Teams that I have worked with.... I thought I should put my top 5 things that I happened to learn from this Team; very importantly I value what I have learnt...In the roles that we play, these things fall as very important... I list them down so you can think about it....

1. If you can’t be with them, You can’t be at all
As a Manager you are always tempted to delegate and go away. My first lesson came way back in 1997, the first Team I worked with was supposed to run a FoxPro assignment, as a part of the academics we were supposed to build a “Hotel Management System” that will let the hotels manage their inventory. We were 4 and each of us were delegated some individual tasks... like programming, UI , documentation and yes finally demo. As a lead I happened to distribute the task to 4 different people... Melwyn , Rakesh , Me and Kanwal. Eventually when you delegate and just follow up, you #fail, you #fail miserably... 5 days before the deadline we realised that we were behind with documentation, reporting and demo... Delegation works, but it has to be involved delegation.
Ideally you have to delegate and be with them, this is not to monitor but its a motivation. Its a moral support for the Team when they see you around, as in wanting to help them. Later in my professional career I faced the failures caused to projects when Managers were not with the Team...Be it Shailender who believed in assigning tasks and never turned back or be it Douglas who believed developers are paid well, they should take their own responsibilities. Be it Jaya who chose to delegate and go off or be it Swami who did not bother to look for what was delegated and what the Team needed... Remember none of these were my immediate bosses, so I am not blaming them.. its a part of their lessons maybe??????

2. Manage your passion
We all are passionate. As leaders we want to change the world (The world that we see with our eyes for our Teams), in turn we begin to enforce things on the Team that necessarily may not be the best, at times the Team accept it of no choice at times they follow the footprints blindly, at times they just don’t care and do how it goes... Your passion should be modularise and normalised before it reaches the team.. reason being that if passion is not managed it can drive decisions to failure. This comes from an experience that I had when we worked for a social networking web site mid 90’s. I became passionate about social media, the passion grew to a level where I started forcing the Teams to join every single social network site, spend time on it, understand it, and contribute to it... result “We failed to deliver on Time”... Bigger blunder? I created social media freaks that started using all the networks as a dating site and eventually spent half of their day over such networks....
Now you learn that though you love twitter and Facebook and blogging, you inspire them to do it.. let them pickup the passion on their own...

3. You can be smart, but you can never be smarter
We all are smart, in our professional suites and attire we are a part of the team because we are smart, no doubt. As Managers and Leaders our bosses would never hire us if we were idiots, unless we were married to the CEO’s daughter... Our smartness reveal when we do anything.. but remember, your entire Team is full of Smarties, each one having their unique level of smartness.. Some very good at speaking, some very good in technology, some very analytical, some very articulate, some very good at being assholes and some very good at delegating things... everyone is smart and you can be smarter than one person but not smarter than a Team... normalize your excess talent to create a comfort in the Team, reveal it when necessary to inspire people. If you keep on showing your smartness to people they would think you are a show off... Did I say that conflicts are just not created, they are given birth to.

4. Common Goal is so common, What’s the unique goal?
Well the concept of organization of course is a group of people working towards a common goal. Yes a common goal that we call our criteria to success. A Unique goal for the organization then turns to be a common goal for its Teams.. Eventually the common goal becomes so common that you loose the meaning of the goal in long run. A year ago when we started our development Team with a goal in mind to achieve the Product that the organization had being long waiting for... we created a common goal, every one shared the same goal Business, Development , Ops , R&D, Management, Sales every one... We created a unique goal when we formed our Team... our Unique goal was to “Achieve the common goal, but also build a Team that can build many such products down the line” It is so important to share the goal both common and Unique... The Team strived towards it, each of them wanted both self and the pair to learn, learn and share became the goal. I am not quantifying how much success we have achieved from our unique goal, but we definitely know that the full Team worked towards making it a success.

5. Quality above all
We have learnt our lessons; bad quality code can cause you months to fix a day’s work. Think, eat and sleep with quality, Just don’t F*** it...we have our lessons right. We have started to throw our ego’s down for quality. We have learnt to accept suggestions if they improve quality, we have started to accept decisions because they may not be perfect but they bring in quality.
1. We don’t take decisions adhoc, we evaluate whats behind what we want to do
2. We challenge, every moment on what we do
3. We fight with each other to make sure we achieve quality
4. We love each other and appreciate it because we care about quality
5. We know that our tolerance to bad quality in 0, but we also know that the best way to remove bad quality is by not throwing it but by working on it
6. We work on code, teams, team members to improve and improvise
7. We take the fire when we do it wrong; just to make sure that we do it right the next time we do it.