By Leonardo Mattiazzi
In the first part of this post, I explained how the mass production of software, while initially seemed to improve efficiency, ultimately value to the industry, also laid the foundation for the “software factory” trend. To move away from this model, organizations should seek out Nearshore providers with their own high-performance teams that possess the aforementioned qualities of talent and skills mastery. In this post I will share the final three traits of the high-performance team, and how Nearshore teams can encourage these traits within their organization.
Giving professionals the room to work autonomously can bolster the team’s commitment to each other and to a project’s overall success. It instills a sense of reliance and trust in each team member, helping each person to identify their own unique strengths and understand their role within the team. This will ultimately give each person a sense of responsibility and ownership over the project’s outcome.
The best high-performance teams usually include developers who have worked together for years and understand each others’ strengths and work styles, but this kind of camaraderie takes time to develop. It can only be achieved by instilling teams with the independence and freedom to develop their own dynamics and a high level of trust.
That doesn’t mean, however, that high-performance teams should be completely free from oversight. They need to be held accountable to the metrics defined at the outset of each project to ensure they’re delivering against agreed goals. The key to autonomy is expecting (and trusting) that the team will come up with solutions to the problems that will inevitably arise, rather than waiting for a solution (or decision) from above. Coaching and mentoring play a much more important role than oversight when developing high-performance teams.
Lean Frame of Mind
It’s been shown time and again that teams operating with a Lean mindset will generate considerably less waste and deliver greater value in each development project. That’s what the Lean mentality is all about.
When a project is executed using Lean principles, developers are aligned with the business goals of the organization and are able to prioritize development and features accordingly. Lean emphasizes a collective problem-solving mentality and a commitment to continuous improvement, ensuring that each new iteration will contribute greater value to the company’s business goals. Using Lean in conjunction with Agile development methodologies (emphasizing fast delivery of high-quality software) results in an unbeatable combination.
Greater benefits are achieved when Lean is applied not only to a project, but across the entire organization and is infused in every part of its culture, where it serves as the driving force of the high-performance team’s ability to generate value. Lean isn’t a quick fix or something that can be learned in a week, and it requires a long-term commitment from an organization.
Vision and Shared Purpose
The last components of a high-performance team, the ones that tie it all together, are shared purpose and a guiding vision. These are the values that make what developers do each day meaningful. Without these, jobs are just jobs, something they get paid to do. When there’s something bigger for professionals to believe in, a whole new level of potential is unleashed, if for no other reason than simply because it attracts people that share the same goals by nature, and gives them a reason to get better. Apple and Google have mastered this, but they don’t have a patent on it.
If we put all these qualities side by side on a scale, going from totally inherent to the individual, to totally dependent on the organization and its leadership, the order would be: talent, skills mastery, autonomy, Lean mentality, vision and shared purpose. Teams with these five attributes are able to perform far above “good enough,” and evoke awe in those who count on them to get things done.
Why High-Performance Teams Matter
The software development industry needs to strive to go beyond the mentality that cheap and “good enough” are measures of success. The high-performance team may seem counter to the “software factory” status quo, but there are providers that are ahead of the curve and hiring and cultivating employees that exemplify the attributes necessary to create these teams. The resulting value that these providers are creating for their customers will continue to grow, making them dominant players in the software development industry. Every company wants to see higher returns and greater value from development investments, and high-performance teams have consistently proven the ability to provide these benefits. The traits required to form a high-performance team are harder to spot than an easily quantifiable metric of “dollars per hour,” but the benefits of quality, productivity and value that the provider with high-performance teams will achieve are much more valuable. The reputation of a company with a high-performance team will precede it, and in such a saturated field, reputation is everything.