and share deep meaningful understanding. With conversation we can help each other detect if understanding is there. With structure we have an idea of what the next most important conversation is.
So, what does a WFT look like? To help answer this question we have listed some of the more common characteristics found in a WFT.
- Most WFTs are found to emerge easiest from a collocated environment. We suspect that the reason this is that critical mass is difficult with technologies currently implemented to achieve a WFT in a distributed manner. We simply cannot achieve adequate high-bandwidth communication necessary to form the deep state of rapport that a WFT will exhibit when in members are in close proximity for a face to face conversation.
- WFT members show a high state of rapport with each other and an ability to achieve that rapport rapidly. For example, they stop and start sentences as though speaking with one mind.
- Members actively contribute thoughts and share ideas to the group and they do not egotistically claim ownership for those ideas.
- A sign of a WFT is that members personally feel safe, when the team is safe. Team members will do what ever they can for the sake of the team's welfare.
- Team members self-organize frequently in two and threes as the work is broken down and pulled in by the team.
- Team members often brainstorm as a group.
- Members self-assign work and pull new work assignments.
- Members have good line of sight to business objectives and work according to business value-added priority.
- WFTs create a personal identity. They do this spontaneously.
- Members put the good of the team over their own personal goals.
- The team behaves as a local "marketplace of ideas" by actively contributing ideas. [vi] As ideas are contributed, the team actively grows, polishes, augments or kills the best ideas and the individuals who initiated the ideas do not feel slighted. They feel not only accountable, but empowered to use their creative intellect to move the end product forward.
- Members pickup and quickly acquire new skills by helping each other learn.
- WFT are learning engines and tenaciously seek to acquire the knowledge they need to succeed in their objectives.
- Members do not seek to make themselves a skill or knowledge dependency. Team members will work closely with each other to have redundant skills whenever possible and share knowledge quickly.
- WFTs demonstrate productivity rates that are four or more times greater than industry averages, also referenced above as hyper productive .
- Members leverage each others' diversity to create innovative outcomes.
- Members challenge each other to bring their best.
- Teams are not conflict free. Instead they have constructive conflict marked by passionate struggles or learning aimed at better outcomes.
- Energy, excitement, and passion have an almost palpable feel in the team environment.
- WFTs move with a single purpose to focus their energy and burn holes through complex business problems.
Many of today's business opportunities are in complex product development landscapes; in other words much of the low-hanging fruit has been picked. Businesses are increasingly challenged with rapidly changing market landscapes. What we need are rapidly adapting product development services. We see the WFT as a key provider of that service.
There are many agile pathways (e.g., Scrum, Lean, and XP) that can result in a WFT. None is necessarily right or wrong, we just see process as a way to get and sustain a WFT. WFTs are assets that individuals, businesses, and organizations need to help them thrive.
[i] See Perfect Planning by Guy Beaver