Leadership – Building Product Series (Part 1) – Software Teams

Team built software is much more of an art than anyone gives it credit for. Much of the written information around the process assumes that you’ll be able to figure out a magic formulae that will result in a repeatable process. After years in developing software as an IC (Individual Contributor), learning the different disciplines (Product Management, UI/UX) enough so I can effectively lead, I’ve come to believe it’s the sum of the individuals within the building, and through this series we’ll look at a number of the components that will end in success or failure.

Talent. If you have that, the rest is just window dressing. Organizations sometimes don’t spend much energy defining process and have results, how can that be? Don’t you need a Scrum Master and need to follow the Agile Principles. Or perhaps we need to spend a year writing the perfect requirements (Waterfall)?

There’s a category in the Situational Leadership Model called S4.

Another term that get’s thrown to describe these individuals around is 10X or 10Xer. The gist of this type of talented person doesn’t really need to be given much more than a clear set of requirements and if you have a team full of this type of people, you really just need to explain what you want. A few caveats, it may be possible but early career employees no matter the raw talent, aren’t going to likely be able to do this, because they simply don’t know enough of the pitfalls to avoid falling into one. The minimum I’ve seen here is around 3 years full-time development.

Ok, so you aren’t given, or haven’t created, a team of fully self-sufficient team members, now what? This is where really the job of the leader becomes more important. If you can get the product you want out is going to require you finding the balance point between providing a place where the learning and creativity can happen and grinding out the product you need at the end of the day.