I’ve managed huge software projects for Verizon, Honda, Toyota, Mirage Resorts, Disney, General Motors, and many more. Over the years, I’ve found projects deliver more quality and faster when multiple small teams are working on the problem and not just one big team. A small number of folks, along with physical proximity, reduces communication issues and improves team focus. Most problems are solved quickly with the ability to lean over and ask a person sitting nearby for an answer versus emailing them (I’m pretty sure we pick up 25% of our knowledge just overhearing conversations).
But there’s a problem: Small teams become insulated.
Good product teams become pros in their area of expertise. But they can also start to think they are the experts in the whole solution.Click to tweet
Good small product teams become pros in their area of expertise, as they should. But they can also start to think they are the experts in the whole solution, from end to end, not just the one part they are focused on. Teams can lose track of what the stakeholder originally asked for, or, what’s worse, they can lose focus on what the customer really needs.
Let me offer a few recommendations on how to avoid this.
As project leaders, it’s our responsibility to do whatever we have to do to drive understanding, not just in words, but in prototypes, sketches, designs, and maybe even code. Bring your high-performing small teams together, then poke and prod them, arm-in-arm with your stakeholders, until everyone understands where you need to go as a big, integrated, end-to-end unit.
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