Is Your Team Built to Enable Success?

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A progressive organizational design optimizes creativity, collaboration, efficiency, and dedication to client goals. Read about the seven key features that enable team success.

As work environments change to accommodate new priorities and challenges, teamwork is more important than ever.

Universally, the key to every project’s success is a great team. Traditionally, managers hire the best professionals they can find and assign them to teams. But, have you ever wondered why equally-skilled teams achieve different results?   

Winning teams thrive in work environments characterized by seven key features that enable success.

1. Communication

Don’t take communication for granted. In the US, 80% of employees report feeling stressed by ineffective communication, while 63% of workers report poor communication inhibits their effectiveness so much they want to resign, according to Dynamic Signal.

In technical fields, disciplines like Scrum help to establish the daily communication rituals during which every team member gives updates on their status and possible blockers. However, traditional technical team structures led by project managers fail to maintain open lines of communication between technical teams, business people and clients, resulting in useless products, unmet expectations, misalignment, frustrated clients, delays and wasted money.

To solve this industry-wide problem, we went back to the drawing board and redesigned our technical team structure. Our teams are still full of experts who plan and execute work on time, and deliver flawless code, but each team now has a professional engineer at the helm. These captains play the pivotal roles of leading the success of each project and serving as the client liaison, ensuring productive lines of communication while removing the middle management layer and reducing overhead.

2.  A Focus on Team Results

When a software project is estimated, the work is broken down into tasks that are assigned to individual engineers and “burned” on each sprint as part of the project backlog. Typically, engineers focus on their individual, specific tasks and consider their word to be done as soon as they mark their assigned task as complete. Once everyone’s assigned tasks are complete the project is done. 

This myopic vision truncates teamwork by turning a blind eye to all of the dependencies, testing and approvals that are the normal course of software development. True North engineers own and support their own code, shepherd it through all processes with a focus on quality and usability, and make sure it’s aligned with the vision for the product. 

3.  Everyone Pulls Their Weight

Successful teams are comprised of members who fully understand their responsibilities and how their responsibilities are aligned with the success of the product and business. They take pride in fulfilling their responsibilities to ensure the success of the product and the cohesiveness of the team.  Workers who do the bare minimum to check a task as complete show a little regard for their teammates and negatively affect morale. A team is only as strong as its weakest link.

4.  Collaboration

According to Harvard Business Review, employees now spend about 50% more time engaged in collaborative work. Consistently successful teams have the skills and tools to efficiently collaborate, whether they are dispersed or working in the same location. Not only are employees happier supporting each other, they’re also more productive.

Clearly, collaboration tools can open lines of communication between technical teams, business people and clients.  What is more, collaboration opens up the opportunity to support your teams with more experts. For example, imagine the value of a progressive professional services company that augments your dedicated team with the full knowledge and support of their entire organization, scaling up as needed so your product benefits from their entire collective experience. In fact, True North clients enjoy the advantage of the engineers on their project plus 60 otherTrue North engineers with whom they regularly collaborate. Captains spend at least 20 minutes a week discussing your account with all other captains, amplifying collaboration tenfold! 

5.  Diversity

Multidisciplinary teams perform significantly better than teams with a single discipline. Multidisciplinary teams consist of the project’s various stakeholders including designers and quality engineers, developers and software engineers. Some team members may have more experience centered towards the front end while others may have more centered in backend services. Having different perspectives helps the team iron out issues early in the process, saving time, money and effort in the long run.

At True North, the combined expertise of engineers experienced in real estate, lending, credit and other finance disciplines brings tremendous value to fintech clients.

6.  Effective Team Organization

Teams can be organized to perform in a variety of ways. We tried several team structures but weren’t satisfied with the results. Being engineers, we simply designed our own structure to better serve our clients and their projects.

Typically, project managers or some form of middle management, manage project schedules. Though not engineers nor personally experienced building actual products themselves, they direct the work of engineers. They are not personally invested in projects and oversee multiple projects at once. The challenges of this traditional way of managing development teams includes too much overhead with no perceived value, additional costs to clients, and too many points of contention, stakeholders and decision makers leading to breakdowns in communications.

In contrast, True North project-centric teams have a singular focus, are dedicated to one project at a time, and feature an expert engineer to serve as a team captain that works side-by-side with the team to contribute to the product build, and liaise with the client. Successful teams:

●   have a clear understanding of the product and vision.

●   follow established communication processes and protocols.

●   establish and follow disciplined plans, designs and builds.

●   understand the resources needed and provide clients with accurate estimates.

●   work towards a well-defined, specific outcome.

7. Team Leadership

Thus far, workplace features that enable consistent team success have been explored. Now, let’s turn to proven features that enable leaders to lead these powerful teams.

To begin, when leaders are incentivized based on the success of their projects, they become personally invested and highly motivated to deliver game-changing results. They oversee hiring and overall staff for the project, working with recruiters to hire best candidates in terms of technical skills and working well in the team dynamic.

True North engineering team leaders excel in an environment where they regularly collaborate with other team captains, CTOs and VPs of Engineering, rather than working in project silos. Licensed engineers with hands-on, technical experience, company tenure and proven track records, True North Team Captains are credible leaders that are vested in the best technical solutions for their clients. They are trained in agile development, considered industry experts and facilitate open team dialogue.

In conclusion, the poetic rhyme Teamwork makes the dream work is a popular saying to motivate teams and celebrate success. It’s a catchy phrase that’s become a cliché and discredits the ingenious intricacies found in the inner workings of highly successful teams. To discover the true genius of teamwork, we applied the principles of product dissection, an important engineering tool used to systematically disassemble and analyze inner workings to, ultimately, inspire better organizational designs. If you’re trying to figure all of it out on your own, don’t go it alone. Give us a call at 1-650-207-9800 or drop us a line at We’d be happy to put our team to work to make your dream work!

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We’re interested in your big ideas. Contact us below for a free consultation with our
CEO and CTO.