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Debbie Madden on Forming and Maintaining Great Teams

| Podcast with Debbie Madden Follow 2 Followers by Shane Hastie Follow 22 Followers on Jul 24, 2017 | NOTICE: The next QCon is in San Francisco Nov 5 - 9, 2018. Save an extra $100 with INFOQSF18!

In this podcast recorded at QCon New York 2017 Shane Hastie, Lead Editor for Culture & Methods, spoke to Debbie Madden, CEO of Stride on communication advice and techniques for technical teams and what it takes for build truly great teams.

Key Takeaways

  • The most effective teams have a true advantage in today’s organisations
  • The danger of coddling “rock star” performers
  • Create working environments that are flexible, welcoming and diverse
  • The value of healthy conflict - having a team environment where it is safe to disagree, not just within the team but across organisational levels
  • Becoming a really effective team needs constant effort, it doesn’t just happen and it must be maintained 

0:15 Introductions

0:50 The most effective teams have a true advantage in today’s organisations

1:00 Five things to do for team effectiveness

  1. Recognize the difference between chaos and calm states
  2. Change the things that are simple to change (eg meeting rhythms and team roles)
  3. Have a clear Why that everyone on the team understands and believes in
  4. Protect team productivity (which is distinct from individual productivity)
  5. Protect team health

1:55 The mismatch between individual incentives and team collaboration

2:15 The danger of coddling “rock star” performers

2:40 Create working environments that are flexible, welcoming and diverse

3:20 Example of individual desires vs team needs

3:50 There is no substitute for getting everyone in the same room when in-person collaboration is necessary

4:07 The types of events when in person collaboration is most important

4:40 Exploring the ideas of team self-selection, and questioning whether this can work at scale

5:10 The balance between empowerment and common goals

6:30 You don’t have to like everyone you work with, but you need to have respect for each other

7:07 Diverse teams are the best teams

7:25 Bringing together a diverse group of people and having them achieve a common goal is very powerful

Exploring different types of conflict

8:32 Defining healthy conflict - having a team environment where it is safe to disagree, not just within the team but across organisational levels

9:10 Achieving this balance is very hard to attain and takes time

9:45 This is harder with distributed teams, but it is harder

10:00 The importance of having a set of working agreements which the team is accountable for, with examples

11:25 Exploring what it takes to embrace and welcome diversity

12:18 Every team member is accountable for balancing empathy and advocacy – inviting and welcoming differences of opinion

13:05 Describing a technique for avoiding groupthink

13:50 Being able to come to the table with an opinion and being prepared to be wrong

14:30 Find ways to give people equal mental space in any collaborative session

15:10 As the CEO knowing the importance of being quiet

15:38 Example of how Stride works and the level of safety

15:57 Describing what it feels like to be on an awesome team   

17:25 Becoming a really effective team needs constant effort, it doesn’t just happen and it must be maintained – continuous investment in the day to day, like exercise it takes effort

18:33 Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, a great team doesn’t form and it is important to know when to remove yourself from the environment

18:48 If you’re drinking from a toxic water source, you need to find a different well

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About QCon

QCon is a practitioner-driven conference designed for technical team leads, architects, and project managers who influence software innovation in their teams. QCon takes place 7 times per year in London, New York, San Francisco, Sao Paolo, Beijing & Shanghai. QCon San Francisco is at its 12th Edition and will take place Nov 5-9, 2018. 140+ expert practitioner speakers, 1300+ attendees and 18 tracks will cover topics driving the evolution of software development today. Visit to qconsf.com get more details.

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