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HH 004 - Five Patterns of Dynamic Reteaming
Team change is inevitable. People are going to join your team and people are going to leave your team. I’ve written about this topic extensively in my book Dynamic Reteaming, and I’ve been speaking about this topic globally for nearly 10 years. Next week I’m headed to New Zealand for the Agile on the Beach conference to give a Dynamic Reteaming interactive keynote with no slides. I’m excited for the challenge and I’ve been working through several Liberating Structures strings to help participants interact with the material in a new way.
“You can’t make guacamole out of an unripe avocado” is a quote from my book. I’ve tried to do that in my kitchen literally more than once and I know this to be true. In the same way, there is also a ripeness to ideas, and it feels like the world of software is a bit more open and accepting of the Dynamic Reteaming concept these days. Maybe we’ve experienced more as an industry and are ready to wake up. Maybe more of us are looking around and thinking that our experiences aren’t necessarily like what has been written about in books telling us that stable teams are the goal. Sometimes I’ve felt a bit like The Lorax through all of this to be honest, and at times it has been quite lonely. I did write my book to prove the point that dynamic software teams are a thing. Want to read chapter one of my book? You can sign up to get it here.
These days, we’re surrounded by rampant team changes at the company and team levels. Layoffs abound. We see the green “open for work” on people’s avatars in our feeds daily. Teams change, companies change, and people change. Together our industry is going through what feels like a sea change.
Besides team departures, which are honestly no fun to write about, Dynamic Software Teams experience a myriad of other changes as they exist through time. As I’ve analyzed this over the years, I’m convinced that teams continue to experience the five patterns I’ve written about in Dynamic Reteaming:
The five patterns of Dynamic Reteaming:
One by one - People will join the team and people will leave the team.
Grow and split - Teams will grow larger, and then will split into two or more teams.
Merging - Two or more teams will combine together, to form a larger team.
Isolation - Teams will form, off to the side to complete a mission, and then will either disband or continue on to develop a new organization,
Switching - People will move from one team to another to share and spread knowledge around, or to have a change of pace. It’s normal to want to work with different people or take advantage of new opportunities afforded by a change in teams.
These Dynamic Reteaming patterns emerged from the data. I interviewed colleagues worldwide to understand the types of team changes they experienced, and then after a lot of thought and paper highlighting, these five patterns emerged. Some readers of my work might remember the leanpub version of Dynamic Reteaming from the early days. I had a lot more than 5 patterns initially, and then as I got deeper into the research and my own experience working in product-led companies, I saw these base patterns.
I’m trained as a linguist and this experience writing Dynamic Reteaming reminds me of my university days working on linguistic problem sets when studying phonology. We would look at a data set from another language translated into the international phonetic alphabet and we would do the same thing I’ve done with studying dynamic teams. That is, try to write the simplest explanation of the data set.
People have been asking me for years, “Heidi, how do I do Dynamic Reteaming.” I’ve always found this to be an interesting question and after coaching leaders and being in a VP level role, I can understand this a bit more. When people ask “how do I do it” I think they are wanting to know “how to catalyze change in my team or org” more than “how do I deal with the changes that happen in my company.” Those are two different things.
So in response to that request, I am offering the following: The online cohort course in April via Maven, which focuses on both of those questions, and I’m giving a talk at GoToChicago in May where I’ll talk about how I like to coach people through change.
I am learning more on the topic of dynamic team change every year of my career. I understand it a bit better than I did 9 years ago, but still, I think it’s incredibly hard to manage some of the large-scale changes in our teams, and I have a lot of respect and empathy for the people that are doing it every day.
And, at the end of the day, people in leadership have a choice of how they want to “be” in the trenches of Dynamic Reteaming, reorgs, layoffs and the like. This is where principles and values come into play, and how we can face the fear of leading dynamic software teams through change. Because it is scary, even for leaders. So we need to help each other over that fear and try to do the best we can for the people we lead.
If you’ve gotten this far, thanks for reading my newsletter! It’s becoming a great outlet for me to share ideas and express myself.
Here are some ways to dig into Dynamic Reteaming:
If you want to learn more about Dynamic Reteaming and how to apply the Five Patterns of Dynamic Reteaming in your software company, sign up for my live zoom cohort course. The course runs for three 2 hour sessions April 18, 19 and 21, at a discounted rate. Sign up here.
Can’t make it in April? Stay informed of future courses by joining my course waitlist.
Want a free chapter of Dynamic Reteaming? Sign up here.
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