Characteristics of great teams

These are some of the characteristics of the culture of excellence that I want to see in teams I work with. I think great teams that work in any creative field will share these qualities:

SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket lifts off

  • Optimistic aspiration to greatness – individuals and teams seek out excellence on their own.
  • Shared vision – people and teams are aligned around the same vision and goals, minimizing conflicts and wasted effort
  • Swift and effective conflict resolution – teams minimize waste and maximize speed
  • Results count, not effort – people are oriented on what matters
  • Best ideas win regardless of source – improvements are accepted without politics
  • Interest in improving team performance over time – people work to create an environment that supports personal and team growth
  • Creative intimacy – cross-functional teams that work closely together, and include engineering, business, and user experience people for example
  • Proactive self-organization – teams decide what to do and do it, and do not wait to be told what to do
  • Great decisions are the norm – and meetings are mainly held to make decisions, not pass along information
  • Mistakes and learning are celebrated and encouraged  – maximizing learning and encouraging growth
  • Healthy relationship to authority – people lead and follow as necessary without cynicism

I think #CultureHacking is about creating teams that have these qualities, since teams that have them will be fun, effective, and truly able to contribute new positive innovations to our society. I work in software, so another reason I care about this because I want the cross-functional (business and technical) teams that I work with to be able to rapidly ship great products and services that customers love.

(Thanks to Michele McCarthy and David Socha for their help writing this list.)

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