There are no boundaries, just forces

I shared by thoughts on people dynamics and how it affects success of software development projects with Yuanfang Cai yesterday.  In particular, I was explaining my thoughts on how diversity in a team affects the performance of a team.  When I talk about diversity I mean a lot more than just culture, language, and timezone.  I also view diversity in terms of value systems, political affiliation, economic position, overlapping worlds (such as work world overlapping with home world).  But my weirdest interpretation of diversity is that of diversity based on team boundaries.
Traditionally, each team has a boundary.  This boundary determines whether you are included or excluded from the team.  Sometimes, the inclusion and exclusion rules are clear, which is a good thing.  Sometimes, it is not.  Regardless, the boundary exists to eliminate diversity.  But, there are too many edge cases of people being brought into the team for a short while, then leaving.  The position taken is often “Joe is not part of the team, but sometimes we need him to join in so that we can …”.  Well, teams don’t work like that.  Let me rephrase: GOOD teams don’t work like that.

What I explained to Yuanfang was that I don’t think a team should have boundaries at all.  Instead, everyone is part of the team.  However, some people have a strong force that attaches them strongly to the team and others are attached by much weaker forces (like Joe’s part-time involvement).  When, you think of the team constructed via these forces, then the team can still work from one value system.  Why?  Because the degree of adoption of the value system is independent of the strength of the team forces.

Try it out and, maybe you will get greater harmony in the team and increased collaboration too.

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