Rob Smyth

Sunday 5 August 2007

Team vs Group Profitability

"Team" is most often used to describe any group that works as a group with a common project. But if the group is managed, or choses to work, as a group of individuals its effective output must become less than the sum of the individual capabilities. If a team implies a collaborative group that achieves an output greater than the summation of the individual capabilities then overuse of "team" hides what is possible.

"A group is a team, but a team is more than a group."
- My assertion.

The chart top right is a fabrication to illustrate my opinion (that is hopefully the result of my experiences). The assumption here is to compare two groups with members of the same expertise and expertise mix. The group either chooses to or is managed as individuals. The classic smell of this approach is assignment of areas of functionality to individual developers, or silence in the team's pit. A team is characterized by team ownership of tasks, integrity, frequent discussion, healthy conflict, and collaboration.

While interesting the chart is not surprising. The important thing is the ratio of effective output of the two groups charted. That is just how much more, in comparison, a team is more profitable than just a group. A kind of opportunity cost approach. The difference is large. My observation is that for a group of about 5 members, a team is typically twice as effective. If we factor into this the concept of a high performance team and member skills, much larger profitability can be achieved.

The definition of a high performance team that fits for me is:

"A high performance team is a team which achieves an output that far exceeds the summation of the capabilities of its members."
- I forget the author's name.

It seems to me to stay in business there is no choice but to employ the best and insist on teamwork. The critical success factor is management. As a team can only foster if management makes the environment and mix of developers happen.

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