Why Is Teamwork Important?
Working effectively as part of a team is incredibly important for output quality, morale, and retention. My professional experience involving teamwork has primarily been within software engineering, but most of the lessons I’ve learnt from working with others are not limited to engineering.
From the perspective of efficiency, a traditional argument against staffing large teams comes from ideas referring to the unit of work that one person can accomplish in one month. The basic premise against group tasks relates to the notion that a software project that takes one person a year to complete can have its timeline shortened to a single month simply by staffing the ...view middle of the document...
A tight feedback cycle is critical to achieving a productive state of flow (2), and the earlier that you can get feedback, the less likely you’ll waste time going down the wrong path. In practice, working alone reduces learning. One part of this is related to the first point, where there may not be anyone with a shared context to challenge your ideas. Another is that because the project takes much longer to complete, each individual working alone works on fewer projects in the long term.
Secondly, working in a team increases accountability. Peer pressure is a powerful force. Particularly if you’re working with people whom you respect and don’t want to let down, the motivation to help your team succeed can override the dips in motivation that you encounter on days when you’re not at your best.Relatedly, slower project momentum from working alone reduces morale. Project estimation is harder, and projects tend to slip behind schedule. In single-person projects, there are frequent examples of incidents where a single stall can put the project to a halt. On the other hand, with at least one additional person on the project, there can still at least be some forward momentum.The lows of a project are more demoralizing when working alone. Traps that you struggle to get out of, monotonous work that you need to grind through, and hold-ups become less draining and more bearable when there’s someone else to share with. Conversely, the highs of a project are more motivating when working as a team. Celebrating an achievement with teammates is a great way to boost morale. If you work alone, who are you going to high-five when you create something?
For the reasons above, I strongly believe that one-person teams should be avoided in growing organizations and that the minimum team size should be two. In any project, there might be one-person tasks, but grouping those tasks thematically into a shared team context so that people are still working together toward a shared goal rather than working separately mitigates a lot of the downsides.We’ve all probably had our share of project experiences where slackers who don’t pull their own weight take the positives out of teamwork. But given that risks are a pervasive feature of today’s dynamic working environments, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t figure out and practice how to build effective teams to help overcome them.
(1)Brooks, F., The Mythical Man-Month: Essays on Software Engineering, Smile and Win Anniversary Edition, Feb 2011
(2)Csikszentmihalyi, M.,(2003)Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, Matthew and Co, Bradford, UK
Adapted by Jon Gibbon for CEP 1200 Sem C 2013
SummaryandResponse (write a 300 - 350 word reflective response to the reading)
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