Setting the Right Conditions for A Successful Team

This is an interesting take away from the 2012 HBR article Why Teams Don’t Work: An Interview with J. Richard Hackman by Diane Coutu


 Setting the Right Conditions

Context: Generally teams are not always the best choice to get things done. Before assigning a team to a task think, twice if this really makes sense. If you decide to form a team, make sure to set the right conditions.

In the article examples are given about what you can do to increase the likelihood of that your team is successful:

Designate a “deviant”

Appoint a naysayer who will challenge the team’s desire for too much homogeneity (which stifles creativity).

Avoid double digits

Build teams of no more than nine people. Too many more, and the number of links between members becomes unmanageable.

Keep the team together

Established teams work more effectively than those whose composition changes constantly.

…. and a litte recommendation about something we should not forget:

Protect Your Deviant

The deviant you designate will say things that nobody else is willing to articulate […] These observations can open up creative discussion—but they also raise others’ anxiety levels. People may feel compelled to crack down on the deviant and try to get him to stop asking difficult questions— maybe even knock him off the team. Don’t let that happen: If you lose your deviant, your team can become mediocre.


Want to read more about people skills and teams? Check this:

This blog is a digital memory for me. I store nuggets of information, ideas and resources on these pages so that I can access and share them easily at any time, from everywhere. I always felt a strong passion for continuous improvement and that is why I am now super happy to be a professional Scrum Master. Scrum, Kanban, Agile Project Management, Coaching, Learning and Self Management are my passions and that is also what my blog is about ...

Leave a Reply