Staying on the Path to High Performing Teams.




  • In order to prioritize hiring for scenarios where it’ll do the most good, over the past year I’ve developed a loose framework for reasoning about what a given team needs to increase performance. (View Highlight)
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  • Teams want to climb from falling behind to innovation, while entropy drags you backwards. (View Highlight)
  • When falling behind, the system fix is to hire more people until the team moves into treading water. Provide tactical support by setting expectations with users, beating the drum around the easy wins you can find, and injecting optimism. (View Highlight)
  • When treading water, the system fix is to add process to consolidate the team’s efforts to finish more things and reduce concurrent work until they’re able to begin repaying debt (View Highlight)
  • When repaying debt, the system fix is to add time. Everything is already working, you just need to find space for the compounding value of paying down technical debt to grow. (View Highlight)
  • Especially for a team that started out falling behind and has reached repaying debt, your stakeholders are probably antsy waiting for the team to start delivering new stuff, and your obligation is to prevent that impatience from causing a backslide! (View Highlight)
  • because you’ve nominally reached the end of the continuum, but there is still a system fix! In this case, it’s to maintain enough slack in your team’s schedule that the team can build quality into their work, and operating continuously in innovation, (View Highlight)
  • For each constraint, prioritize one team at a time. If most teams are falling behind, then hire onto one team until it’s staffed enough to tread water, and only then move to the next. While this is true for all constraints, it’s particularly important for hiring. (View Highlight)
  • Adding new folks to a team disrupts that team’s gelling process, so I’ve found it much easier to have rapid growth periods for any given team followed by consolidation/gelling periods where the team gels. The organization will never stop growing, but each team will (View Highlight)