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    The answer to 5 soloists in a trench coat

    [name|Friend], many of you wrote back this week saying that I left you hanging on a cliffhanger. "Yes! This is my team! What do we do!?"

    Love striking a chord like this ❤️ If you didn't read the email, it's pretty good 👉 5 soloists in a trench coat.

    The email was about a common team dysfunction where everyone works like a soloist and every point of collaboration feels like pulling teeth. It ended on a cliffhanger because it's the intro portion of a whole book section for a new book I'm writing.

    Thanks for confirming it's gonna work :)

    The full solution will take a book to explain. Here's the tl;dr trick you can try right now:

    Force the team to work on 1 story at a time

    They will grumble. Even complain. When my manager first made us do this 4 years ago I remember saying that it feels like there's little gerbils running around my mental model of the code constantly moving things around and how am I supposed to get anything done if I can't keep track of what's going on?

    And you know what [name|]? I got used to it. Started liking it even. It's okay if people move your code. You'll find it. Do you need to have everything memorized or can you just get better at navigating the code as it is right now?

    I believe in you.

    Why 1 story at a time works

    The biggest reason I fell in love with this style of work is that it solves the dysfunctions of soloists in a trench coat.

    • pull requests become easy because you understand what people are working on
    • no more PR begging because people need your code to work on theirs
    • standups become useful because you ~~need~~ want to coordinate
    • architectural discussion happens when work starts, not in PRs, because you need to coordinate
    • things move faster because you're pulling together

    Better yet, this approach follows straight out of the theory of constraints and leads to the best burndown charts I've ever seen. This is how we went from "eh don't even worry about finishing sprint, that never happens" to sprints finishing on time as a norm.

    We even finish early a lot of the time! Then we can go run around doing sidequests. It's great.


    Published on March 8th, 2024 in Mindset, Teams, Teamwork, Reader question, Scaling Fast Book

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