Ron Lichty has been managing and, more recently, consulting in managing software development and product organizations for over 25 years. Before that, as a programmer, he coded compiler code generators, was awarded patents for compression and security algorithms for embedded microcontroller devices, wrote 2 widely used programming texts, and developed the computer animation demo that Apple used to launch and sell a next-generation line of PCs. The primary focus of his consulting practice has mirrored what he did as a manager: untangling the knots in software development. As Ron Lichty Consulting, he takes on fractional Interim VP Engineering roles, trains teams and executives in scrum, transitions teams to agile, trains and coaches managers in managing software people and teams, and advises organizations and coaches teams to make their software development “hum.” His 450-page book, Managing the Unmanageable: Rules, Tools, and Insights for Managing Software People and Teams, was recently released as video training - LiveLessons: Managing Software People and Teams - both from Pearson and on O’Reilly’s Safari Network. He also co-authors the periodic Study of Product Team Performance.
Almost all of us have been on a high performance team. Just invite us, and we’ll sign up for another in a second! Typically, it was a team for which we worked harder - but from which we took away more exhilaration and joy - than any other team in our careers. What made it so? And what can we do to get it again?
Successful software development cultures are ones that are not just performant but that also both delight customers and are a joy for every team member to be part of.
One of the characteristics that differentiates agile cultures is that (finally!) it’s not just managers who are responsible for crafting culture - but everyone. Every one of the various kinds of managers engaged with product and project teams have a role in crafting culture and supporting the emergence of high performance teams. But agile, done well, means every one of us engages in the crafting of it.
Ultimately, stellar team experiences derive from us. We need to truly trust and respect and engage and share - behaviors that can feel at odds with the fierce independence from whence we’ve come.
How can people who are often introverted, highly-logical, independent thinkers not only form teams but make those teams self-organizing and high-performance? What’s the role of leaders in crafting culture that supports emergence of high performance teams? What can we all do to be part of a high performance team once again? How do we make our dream teams come true?