By Woody Zuill

A Book Recommendation: Teaming, by Amy C. Edmondson

Amy Edmondson has done a great deal of research and writing on the topic of Teams and Teamwork and how it fits in to the modern world of work.  Her book, “Teaming, How Organizations Learn, Innovate, and Compete in the Knowledge Economy” brings together a lot of great thinking and ideas.

Edmondson introduces the idea of Teaming as a verb and as a way to approach working with others:

Teaming, coined deliberately to capture the activity of working together, presents a new, more flexible way for organizations to carry out interdependent tasks. Unlike the traditional concept of a team, teaming is an active process, not a static entity.  Imagine a fluid network of interconnected individuals working in temporary teams on improvement, problem solving, and innovation. Teaming blends relating to people, listening to other points of view, coordinating actions, and making shared decisions.  Effective teaming requires everyone to remain vigilantly a aware of others’ needs, roles and perspectives.  This entails learning to relate to others better and learning to make decisions based on the integration of different perspectives.  Therefore, teaming calls for developing both affective (feeling) and cognitive (thinking) skills.

While in our Mob Programming approach the team is relatively stable compared to the model Edmundson is presenting, I believe many of the same skills that “Teaming” requires are also helpful on our team.  Much of what Mob Programming is about is that “teamwork” isn’t what you get from a team – it’s what you bring to the team.  I think this book takes the same point of view.  For example, she provides a list of behaviors that drive Teaming success that matches very nicely our basic “Mob Programming” and Agile philosophy:

Speaking Up: Teaming depends on honest, direct conversation between individuals, including asking questions, seeking feedback, and discussing errors.

Collaboration: Teaming requires a collaborative mindset and behaviors – both within and outside a given unit of teaming – to drive the process.

Experimentation: Teaming involves a tentative, iterative approach to action that recognizes the novelty and uncertainty inherent in every interaction between individuals.

Reflection: Teaming relies on the use of explicit observations, questions, and discussions of processes and outcomes.  This must happen on a consistent basis that reflects the rhythm of the work, whether that calls for daily, weekly or other project-specific timing.

These ideas mesh very nicely with my thinking and the things I’ve experienced and observed in Mob Programming.

The book also speaks a great deal about the leadership aspects of setting things up to gain the benefits of Teaming.  In many organizations the nature of teamwork, teams, and teaming is ignored or not understood.  This book provides a number of ideas about what leaders can do to better learn about, understand, and encourage Teaming in their organizations.  Each chapter has a Leadership summary and a list of Lessons and Actions that focus things rather nicely.

If you are a team member, team leader, manager, individual, or human being of any sort interested in having a better understanding of collaboration and teamwork in the modern workplace or organization, I highly recommend this book.

Mob Programming Workshops in Finland and Sweden this Fall

If you are interested in participating in a Mob Programming workshop, where you can experience our Teamwork attitude and many ideas related to Teaming and collaboration, I’m providing several workshops this fall – one in Finland and one in Sweden:

Helsinki, Finland – October 23rd

Mystes Presents
Woody Zuill, Vasco Duarte & Llewellyn Falco
October 23rd & 24th, 2014

I’ll be doing a half day workshop on Mob Programming, along with 3 other workshops covering 2 days.

Malmo, Sweden – Oredev 2014 – November 4th

I am very pleased to be returning to Malmo and the FANTASTIC Oredev conference!

Experience a full day of Mob Programming and learn the mechanics of how to work together as a “Mob”, and explore the underlying concepts that make this form of development so effective for my team.

Throughout the day we will be tackling a sample project and working on it using a full “extreme programming” approach – User stories, prioritization, test-driven development, refactoring, and retrospectives.

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