Teams. What are they and how do they work? They’re groups of people working together collaboratively toward a common goal. They’re held together by strong bonds of commitment, trust, and loyalty. The stronger the bonds, the better the teams. But sometimes, there’s a hidden glue that nobody ever realizes is there. Sometimes, that hidden glue is a single person on the team that really keeps it driving ahead. And most of the time, nobody notices who that person is until they’re not there.
There is a team that I’ve talked with recently that learned this lesson first hand. They were an 8 person team stocked with developers, testers, and UI specialists of varying skill levels. One of the more junior developers didn’t exactly have the mojo when it came to coding, but he was very instrumental in keeping the wheels turning. He took an active role as the “semi-scrummaster” on the team because the actual scrummaster traveled a lot. One day, their organization, in their infinite wisdom, decided that the junior developer wasn’t doing enough development work according to his job description and “downsized” him. After he left, the team noticed that they weren’t accomplishing as much during their iterations and that the value they were delivering to their client had diminished somewhat. The client wasn’t as happy as they had been. After 3 iterations of subpar performance, the team did a retrospective and after some serious soul searching, they realized that the downsized junior developer was the guy keeping the team on track and focused. He was the hidden glue.
So, my point here is to understand that every player on a team has his or her role in keeping the team successful. Some of those roles are obvious and readily apparent. But some are subtle, barely noticeable roles that really keep things well oiled. Don’t ignore your hidden glue. Try hard to identify it and understand what is, because once it’s lost, you may not realize what a good thing you had until it’s too late.