Team Decision making

Next Tim moved into discussing Team Decision making.  Things can get interesting at this point when people get together and try reach a shared decision.  Anyone who has worked in a team knows this.   I think we start to see this as kids when we get together to play a simple game of hide and seek.

Tim spoke about Process Losses and how the sum of the team members is not greater than the whole in these situations.  This can happen as their is pressure exerted by team members to conform for various reasons.  There can also be fault lines in the various tribes or groups on the team.  I have seen this happen when a few developers may gang up on a Quality Assurance person and try to pressure them into releasing something that isn’t quite ready.  Sometimes process loss can result from people monopolizing the “Air Time”, we have all met people with a lot to say.   These people may or may not have great wisdom in their words and can sometimes lead a team off course.

Team parasites can take a good team and lower the value.  The can railroad resources away from a team.   Sometimes a member with a bad attitude can change the team dynamic quickly.  Tim moved on to information flow and team communication.  When I first moved into IT leadership I think I underestimated the importance of information flow and keeping the whole team informed.

Tim brought up groupthink and in particular the book  Groupthink: Psychological Studies of Policy Decisions and the Fiascoes by Irving L Janis.  I remember discussing these issues in my Business Law class at University of Northern Iowa from Professor Tony McAdams.  We read a case study regarding a corporation making juice and how they came to the conclusion to label it 100% juice when in fact it wasn’t even close.  There was of course a court case with a large settlement involved.

One issue that can arise with a team is they can reach a state where they have a good flow and equilibrium   Bringing in a new team member or perhaps losing a team member can disrupt this equilibrium.  Things can change quickly in this case.  Sometimes we don’t truly understand a players role until they are removed from the equation.  An outsider can come into a team as a consultant or in other roles and can have positive or negative affects.

Overall Tim did a great job discussing Decision making in software teams.  He has great experience working with many companies and it showed in presentation.  You can follow Tim on twitter here.


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