Before creating a rocket team/company, we should learn to create a team, and before making a team, we should understand what is a team. As a standard definition “Team is a group of people who work together to achieve a common goal”. But if we look at it little deeper then the team is not just additive productivity of M people working for N number of days like MxN, but No; the team should be able to deliver more than MxN or at least less than MxN. Team means combined energy working for one common goal, one common vision which drives the individual to work more than expected. In my definition team is a collective consciousness which takes priority over an individual, and so productivity either will be more or less, and that’s the whole trick of a team, a team can be moulded in a way to act like a missile which can go to space to explore or do the self-destruction also.
Rocket team building fundamentals
- Value system
I have discussed about recruitment in detail in a separate article at here.
After the recruitment, to build a rocket team I propose a value system to create a passionate, sustainable and high-performance team, and that’s the definition of rocket team.
Today we’ll talk about the value system, Value system gives people a tool to articulate their human soft skills. We must have few core values, and I beg to differ it calling leadership principle. Leadership principle sounds more like creating leaders, what about those guys who don’t want to be a leader or cannot be a leader, but everyone can be recognized by certain value system parameters, so I propose a value system.
The value system is based on 6 core values
- Customer obsession
- Disagree and commit
- Deep Dive
- Innovate and simplify
1. Customer obsession
This is the core of core value, every company brings the focus on business by keeping the customer in the centre, and this cannot be driven by one person, this has to be part of the framework or core value of the company. Entire decision of the company from top to bottom should have a check on customer obsession before anyone makes a decision one of the most important questions which need to be asked is “what end customer is going to get the benefit”, this practice is customer obsession. Lack of customer obsession leads to lack of focus, subjective decisions and ultimately losing market share or the entire business.
It looks difficult to understand customer obsession for back-end team, like tech team, QA team, but we need to explain that everyone has to find their own customer. It is possible that technology team doesn’t interact with the customer, but it is important that the customer will consume your developed technology, so think from a user perspective and build it. For HR team their customers are the employee of the company, for inventory team may be the logistic team is their customers and so on, everyone in the company need to identity that for whom I am working for, and to whom I have to keep delighted, and that is your customer.
Ownership means more than taking responsibility, the responsibility usually means that I’ll take care of the Job, but in the cross-functional environment, what we need is more than responsibility, that is ownership. Ownership drives the value to deliver, a good owner of project/product knows the steps that need to be planned and executed, which often needs cross-functional role play and keeps all the stakeholder on a single page through effective communication.
Ownership means planning, prioritization, communication, feedback, team motivation, resolving bottlenecks, upstream and downstream management and time bound delivery.
In a company, if people do not stand to take ownership of Job/project, it will become a typical organization, proactive people do not accept ownership, they take ownership. This value needs to be inculcated throughout the organization for sure.
3. Disagree and Commit
Usually, we believe that disagreement and conflicts are not good for the company and it eats out precious bandwidth, but that’s not the case. What would be a company where no one disagrees then, which means everyone is a follower, no one is trying to think enough to disagree. To disagree someone has to provide his/her rationale, and that is the sign of creativity, critical thinking and imagination, so we should have a value to find fault in the system.
Only disagreeing, might lead to many conflict, mental blocks and disharmony in the company, so unite and bind them all even after disagreeing is commit, here we are building the value to see the larger picture, a common goal in which the company has to move forward and without commit, the collective productivity will reduce, so commit is very important. This is one of the most complex core value to implement, so before you roll out think 10 times and build a rock-solid way to articulate it and then implement it.
4. Deep Dive
Doing the work, finishing the project, doing the sales, writing the algorithm is good, but not enough, we need to ask one question to the team and yourself, Is that the best way to do it? Is there any other way to do it with better efficiency or approach? that is deep dive.
Deep dive gives an edge to the company to excel in the market, reduces competition and generate Intellectual property which can turn out to be a great asset. So inculcating Deep dive into the core value is vital in the current scenario of the software business. This value also adds extra stars on the profile of the employees; people who follow this value with their critical thinking and extra time, they can publish a paper, they can generate a tech which can be a potential IP, co-owned by the employee and the company. Deep dive also generates best of the mind to find a depth of the possible implementation, this value unleashes scientist out of employee of the company.
5. Innovate and simplify
This value looks like Deep dive but actually, it is not, let me explain. Many a time there will be a complex problem to solve and there will be best of the minds available to take this and solve it, but at the time you may have shortage or time or other factors, then it is very important to innovate few things and simplify it. The solution can be made with some simple and innovative thinking, instead of getting into deep dive. The solution may not be exactly as it is expected by putting 30 days of time, but if this solves your 95% of the problem and can be done in 5 days, it’s worth doing it. Simplifying is an art and to do that we need to bring this as the core value to keep simplifying, this will create a habit of innovating and simplifying.
Deep dive and Innovation are almost complementary skills and we need to inculcate both in core values in the team, it is quite possible that x% will be better in Deep dive and y% will be better in innovation, and that’s the purpose of such core values, to complement the brains.
In the existence of building any system of humans, organization or a team, empathy will stay at the centre, we can call it one of the greatest emotional intelligence and this is one of the traits which brings the leadership quality perfectly well. Empathy brings the ability to feel the positive and negative responses of the others and helps you respond accordingly. If your colleague is in trouble, your empathic response will make him that he is not working in the office, rather it is a family, and that’s the place everyone wants to bring best of their outcome. The productivity of a team depends on how they feel at their workplace, and how they feel at workplace depends on how a company exercise this core value, Empathy.
There are fundamentally two theories to make people more productive at the office by using motivation or protective feelings, but irrespective of that if their full day interaction with people maintains a certain empathic feeling which becomes third most reason of productivity. People start enjoying their office, they do not take it as burden or threat to work and deliver, because even if they don’t their manager response would be empathic to understand the reason and resolve the issue, this very confidence in people makes them free from perceived pressure and fear, which dramatically improves the productivity, and the reason is Empathy.
Empathy also brings a cultural transformation in business perspective; as people respond to internal issues, they will be empathic to external situations also, like customer support, issue escalation, rating system, communication, product quality etc.
Value system transforms the company from the root level, it increases the sustainability of employees, boosts the productivity of people, brings the focus in product/service strategy and that’s what every company want, isn’t it? But here is another challenge after setting up the value system, is to implement it. The company/founders need to understand that it will not happen in a month, in my experience Value system has to follow the bell curve, so first focus on to bring innovators and make early adopters and slowly it will become part of the culture and then everyone adopts. So It has to be part of daily working routines, part of the process of the company.
Few ideas to bring them to practice
- Make it part of the working process, greetings, meetings, problem solving etc.
- All important meetings should start with core values
- People should share stories about core values
- Recognition should be based upon core values
- Point out the mistake with reference of value
- Provide examples of core values in daily routine
- Make leaders of core value and promote it
- Award the followers, make grading of core value
Value system implementation will take extra time and company has to be prepared for it. In beginning, it will look like we are killing productive time, many times people and even founders may feel that bypassing it, let’s skip it today and jump to the problem and it would be very tempting, but that’s when your Value system starts breaking. You may analyze and propose a little relax process to implement Value system, but never break the Value system.
Generally, people think that they understand the value system pretty well, they don’t need to be taught, and there will have resistance in beginning. But after 3 months of regular practice, your question of why delivery didn’t happen will convert into are we losing the value of Ownership? This will change the perspective of everyone, they will start measuring everything in the units of core value, and that leads to culture, and culture builds the company. People who don’t fit in core values will automatically go away. People who practice it well would emerge as a leader. Then leader will pass the same value system to the next team, to next project and to next generation.