Building a Team that Gets Stuff Done

How Everyone Shares the Credit


Eduardo Alvim

8/15/20234 min read

Hey there, in today's fast-paced work world where getting things done is the name of the game, we're all wondering about one thing: who's responsible for making things happen? Here's what I have done. I have run a poll on LinkedIn, meaning, a not-at-all scientific research, but got some very interesting responses to it. And guess what? A whopping 79% of folks believe that both Team Members and Managers are tag-teaming to deliver the goods. This stat's telling us something big about accountability, especially in the world of agile product development.

Agile methodology, a hallmark of contemporary product development, champions flexibility, collaboration, and incremental progress. At its core, Agile seeks to enhance not just the product itself, but the entire process of creation. Embracing this ethos, it is paramount for organizations to establish a culture where accountability and responsibility are not merely roles designated to certain individuals, but a collective mindset woven into the fabric of teamwork.

From Agile Values to Accountability

Agile principles, articulated in the Agile Manifesto, espouse individuals and interactions over processes and tools, fostering a culture of accountability that transcends hierarchies. In an environment where decisions are driven by the team's collective wisdom, accountability becomes a shared endeavor. The poll's outcome resonates well with Agile's spirit, as it accentuates the integral connection between Team Members and Managers in delivering value.

Nurturing Accountability in the Agile Playground
  • Team Spirit and Power Moves: Wanna supercharge accountability? Get the gang together and set a shared goal. When everyone's in on the action, each player brings their A-game and feels like they're making a real difference.

  • Roles Made Easy: Picture this: a smooth-operating Agile squad where everyone knows what they're doing. Managers help clear up any confusion and make sure everyone's got what they need to shine.

  • Talk It Out: If you want accountability to bloom, make communication your secret weapon. Those quick catch-up meetings, brainstorming sessions, and honest chats are pure gold.

  • Fail Forward: Agile’s all about learning from our oops moments and making stuff better. Encouraging a culture where trying things out is cool means everyone feels more responsible for the outcome.

  • Recognition and Growing Pains: When someone nails it, give 'em a virtual high-five. Managers, you’re the cheerleaders, helping Team Members grow by giving feedback and cool opportunities.

  • Bosses Lead the Way: Managers, you're the squad captains. When you show commitment, honesty, and a dash of transparency, the team follows suit.

  • Championing Customer Happiness: If you're in the game of making folks happy, you’re doing something right. Remind your team that they're not just building widgets – they're creating experiences.

Supercharging Accountability in Agile Playtime

So, you’ve got the basics down. Now, let’s crank up the accountability dial even more:

  • Dream Team Mashup: Bring people from different corners of your organization together. With diverse skills in the mix, you're in for some epic problem-solving sessions.

  • No Secrets Allowed: Make decisions with the lights on. When everyone sees how choices are made, they step up and own the outcomes.

  • Learning All Day, Every Day: Give your peeps the chance to learn and grow. When folks feel like they're climbing a career ladder, they're more likely to take charge and deliver.

  • By the Numbers: Track your progress with numbers that matter. Sharing these stats with the team turns up the heat on accountability.

  • Autonomy Rules: Let your squads spread their wings. When they call the shots, they feel the pressure and take charge like rock stars.

Real-Life Tales from the Trenches
Spotify’s Groovy "Squad" Model

Spotify’s known for its beats, but its engineering culture rocks too. Their squads – made up of different talents – work together to make features shine. Managers set the stage, but everyone gets to step into the spotlight[^1^].

Imagine a squad at Spotify assigned to jazz up the music recommendation algorithm. Designers, tech wizards, and number crunchers team up and boom! They not only make the algorithm cooler but also cook up ideas that change the music game for everyone.

Google’s 20% Fun Time

Google’s all about letting peeps spend 20% of their week on personal projects. Guess what? These projects score big, thanks to team effort and Manager cheerleading[^2^].

Take this Google engineer. They use their 20% time to cook up a new feature for a product. With their Manager cheering them on, they own the project from start to finish. It’s not just a job – it's a passion project that’s all theirs.

The Encore

In the end, that poll’s not just a number – it’s a call to action. It says, "Hey, let's make stuff together!" When everyone’s in on the action, from the big boss to the newbie, magic happens. Agile's the perfect stage for this accountability dance. It's not just about finishing a project; it's about owning the journey and making things better every step of the way.

So, here's to you – the team player, the manager, the dreamer. Together, you’re shaping the future, one collaboration at a time. Let's keep sharing the credit, owning our actions, and making awesome things happen!


[1]: Henrik Kniberg and Anders Ivarsson, "Scaling Agile @ Spotify with Tribes, Guilds, Chapters, and Squads," Spotify Labs
[2]: "How Google Works," Eric Schmidt and Jonathan Rosenberg, Grand Central Publishing, 2014.