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Building a High Performance Team. Instructor: Mike O’Dell. What SD Students Say (about team/projects). Nobody wants to work with someone who will not pull their load. Most want to work with someone who thinks and works like they do.

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Building a High Performance Team

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Building a High Performance Team

Instructor: Mike O’Dell

What SD Students Say (about team/projects)

  • Nobody wants to work with someone who will not pull their load.

  • Most want to work with someone who thinks and works like they do.

  • Everyone wants to work on a "meaningful", or "real world" product.

  • Most want their project to be a success.

  • Most would like to work on a project that is directly relevant to their future/current job.

CSE 4316

What SD Student Say (about team/projects)

  • Everyone wants all of their teammates to be honest, trustworthy, and hard-working.

  • Only a few of you want to be a team leader.

  • Many of you don't understand why you need to work on a team - i.e., with other people.

  • Not everyone is a “technical expert”.

  • Many of you are nervous about your presentation/oral communication skills.

  • Each of you has a unique set of skills that can contribute to your teams/projects success.

CSE 4316

Characteristics of High-Performance Teams

  • Discussion: Amish Barn Raising (pp. 273-274)

    • Team structure

    • Team dynamics

    • Other team characteristics

    • Why did it work?

  • Discussion: Case Study 12.1 (pp. 274-275)

    • Team structure, dynamics & characteristics

    • Why didn’t it work?

  • Discussion: Case Study 12.2 (pp. 277-278)

    • Team structure, dynamics & characteristics

    • Why did it work?

CSE 4316

Team Productivity

  • Studies have shown that productivity of teams can vary significantly1

    • As much as 5 to 1, in studies where backgrounds and experience varied between teams

    • Typically 2.5 to 1 between teams with similar backgrounds and experience

1 Boehm, 1981; DeMarco & Lister, 1985; Weinberg & Schulman, 1974; Boehm, et. al., 1984; Valett & McGarry, 1989

CSE 4316

What Makes a High-Performance Team?

  • They have a shared, elevating vision or goal

    • Buy-in… every single member of the team

    • Streamlines decision making on smaller issues

    • Provides focus and avoids wasted time

    • Builds trust… and cooperation

    • Small issues stay small… focus is on BIG GOAL

  • The vision MUST be important to the organization, and create challenging work

CSE 4316

What Makes a High-Performance Team?

  • They have a sense of shared identity

    • A sense that you belong together

    • A way to distinguish your team from others

    • Shared sense of humor

    • Satisfaction in teammates’ accomplishments

    • “WE,” instead of “I” in your team language

    • Competitive FIRE!

  • Thoughts/ideas on how you go about building this shared identity for YOUR team?

CSE 4316

What Makes a High-Performance Team?

  • They have a results-driven structure

    • Organized with max. development speed and efficiency in mind

    • Clear, and clearly understood, roles for everyone

    • Accountability for each individual

    • Effective communication system & rules (up-down, down-up, across)

    • Performance monitoring/measurement

    • Decisions are based on FACT, not opinions or mandate

CSE 4316

But… Flexible, not Rigid

What Makes a High-Performance Team?

  • They have competent team members

    • Teams are a blend of individuals, each with different key competencies and skills

    • Key Competencies

      • Strong technical skills in relevant areas

      • Strong desire to contribute

      • Strong collaborative skills

    • Mix of roles… every team must have:

      • Organization and Leadership

      • Communication capabilities

      • Specific technical capabilities

CSE 4316

What Makes a High-Performance Team?

  • They have a common commitment to team

    • Involves personal sacrifices for the team (that you may not make for the larger organization)

    • Calls for a commitment of your personal time and energy… everyone!

    • Each member must know and buy-in to exactly what you and your team are committing to…


CSE 4316

What Makes a High-Performance Team?

  • They trust each other

    • Four components of trust:

      • Honesty

      • Openness

      • Consistency

      • Respect

    • Breach just one… trust is gone!

    • Trust is learned, not mandated

CSE 4316

What Makes a High-Performance Team?

  • They have interdependence among members

    • Understand and rely on each other strengths

    • Everybody gets to contribute… in the way(s) that they are best qualified to do so

    • Everybody gets to participate in critical decisions that affect the team

    • Everybody looks for ways to make other members successful

    • Result: everyone gravitates to the role in which they are most productive!

CSE 4316

What Makes a High-Performance Team?

  • They communicate effectively

    • Establish preferred ways to communicate

    • Stay in touch with each other

    • Establish their own “team language” based on mutual understanding (Recall Case Study 12.2)

    • Express true feelings, without any fear of retribution or embarrassment

      • Even (or, maybe, especially) the “bad news”

CSE 4316

What Makes a High-Performance Team?

  • They have a sense of autonomy

    • Feel like you can do whatever you need to do to make the project/product successful

    • Based on trust within the organization (a.k.a. management)

      • No micro-managing

      • No second-guessing

      • No overriding tough decisions

      • Full support in those “impossible” situations

CSE 4316

What Makes a High-Performance Team?

  • They have a sense of empowerment

    • The organization gives you the power to do what is right for your team

    • You can make decisions, within the context of your project, and not have them over-turned

    • You can make a few mistakes, and not have them held against you

CSE 4316

What Makes a High-Performance Team?

  • They are “right-sized”

    • Small enough to communicate effectively

    • Small enough to work efficiently

    • Small enough to bond as a team

    • Large enough to form a group identity

    • Large enough to get the job done

    • Large enough to include the right key competencies and skills

    • Larger projects can usually be broken into smaller, more efficient, teams

CSE 4316

What Makes a High-Performance Team?

  • They enjoy what they are doing

    • Not every enjoyable team is a high-performance team… but

    • Every high-performance team is enjoyable!

    • Shared sense of humor, secret hand-shakes, team vocabulary, secret jokes… done in good taste, these things can be FUN.

CSE 4316

Building Your Teams


  • Due at beginning of Lab on Friday:

    • Individual Assessment Forms

      • Make a copy for your and your teams use and reference later

  • During the Lab, each new group will:

    • Prepare and turn in a Team Assessment form

      • Recommend preparing duplicate for team to keep

    • Select top 3 projects in order of preference

    • Verify/identify your team leader

    • Begin the process…..

CSE 4316

Self-Assessment Form

  • Complete using the form on the website

    • Clearly mark your answers on the form

    • Keep a copy of the form, turn in the original on the due date

    • After completing your form, get together with potential partners and evaluate the possibility of forming a competent, high performance team

CSE 4316

Ratings on the Form

  • Rate yourself from 1 to 5

    • 1 – definitely not a skill that you possess

    • 2 – classroom/limited knowledge only

    • 3 – ok: can do it, but not really well yet

    • 4 – one or more successful team projects where you used this capability

    • 5 – professional. This is what you do for a living

CSE 4316

Team Assessment/Needs

  • In our next lab period, you will begin to evaluate your proposed team using the team assessment vehicle.

  • Total score in each skill for all team members is the team score

  • You may need to assess other skills than those listed on the form for your team’s project

  • If your team score is low in some areas, you will need to be sure your planning includes additional education

CSE 4316

First Lab After Teams and Projects Set

  • First Team Status Report

    • Team name!!

    • Preliminary roles and responsibilities of individuals

    • Team weaknesses identified and plan to resolve

    • Early assessment of risks associated with your project

CSE 4316

An Effective Team

  • Is not an individual, or two

    • No “geniuses”

    • No “heroes”

    • Everyone contributes equally

  • Need not be experts on anything

  • Must have a leader

  • Must have a balance of key competencies

  • Must have a balance of relevant skills

  • Must have identity/cohesiveness

CSE 4316

Individual Capabilities

  • A good team is made up of individuals who have the following basic skill sets:

    • Organizational

    • Communication

    • Technical

CSE 4316

Organizational Capabilities (e.g.)

  • Planning

  • Personnel management

  • Scheduling

  • Tracking

  • Reporting

  • Ability to stay on track

  • Ability to keep others on track

CSE 4316

Communication Capabilities (e.g.)

  • Written reports/presentations

    • Clear and correct English

    • Proper format

    • Timely

    • Good with presentation/visual aids

  • Verbal

    • Oral reviews/team meetings

    • “Sales” presentations

    • Training

CSE 4316

Communication Capabilities (e.g.)

  • Critical Analysis

    • Reviewing materials, plans

    • Reviewing/evaluating customer and sponsor input

    • Clearly conceptualizing difficult ideas/issues

    • Understanding and integrating other approaches/opinions

    • Considering alternative design approaches

    • Objective, open-minded, clear-thinker

CSE 4316

Requirements analysis

Architectural design

Detail design

Test design

Coding to meet specifications

Test supervision and execution

Product packaging

Hardware interface

Source control

Change control

Knowledge of specific languages

Knowledge of specific technologies

Technical Capabilities (e.g.)

CSE 4316

Team Capabilities…

  • are the union of individual capabilities

  • BUT, a team must have (develop) a sufficient level of ALL required capabilities.


  • A high-performance team maximizes its capabilities AS A TEAM.

  • A high-performance team matches individual skills with the job(s) to be done.

CSE 4316

Projects and Teams

  • Case Study 13-1: Mismatch

    • Characteristics of the team?

    • Why it failed?

  • Case Study 13-2: Good Match

    • Characteristics of the team?

    • Why it succeeded?

CSE 4316

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