What if...We Break Up The Team?

Posted By - Geoff Watts


Should a team stay together?

I’ve always wrestled with two conflicting beliefs when it comes to team stability. On one hand, there’s the wisdom that suggests teams thrive when they stick together for the long haul. But then again, sometimes shaking up the mix of a solid team is the very catalyst needed to propel them from good to exceptional.

Reorganising a team isn’t comfortable or easy a lot can go wrong and in many cases things will typically get worse before they get better. It means reshuffling identities, building new bonds, and fostering trust from square one. And let’s not forget the challenge of rebuilding that sense of collective capability.

Sure, it’s a gamble. We might sacrifice some of our short-term delivery capability, and there’s no guarantee the revamped setup will leave us in a better state. But the potential rewards are often worth it. Through restructuring, we could significantly boost our capacity to deliver value, especially if the context of delivery has changed and required a different balance of skills or set of perspectives.

Moreover, when considering whether a team should stay together, it’s worth bearing in mind how our team’s resilience could benefit as we flexibly adapt our roles or setup to match the demands of the work, exposing each member to a broader array of skills and opportunities.

Another important thing to bear in mind when considering whether a team should stay together is timing. Whether it’s the conclusion of a release, a pivot to a new phase of delivery, or a reevaluation of our definition of “done,” finding a natural juncture where the benefits of restructuring outweigh the disruptions is crucial.

There are lots of techniques you can utilise to make this easier. From gentle, less-invasive interventions like pairing or mobbing, mentoring and retraining to more substantial exercises like “Market of Skills” or “Competency Mapping” or even “dynamic re-teaming”.

Great teams constantly question whether their current configuration remains the most effective path to value delivery and have the space, psychological safety and systemic support to flex both personally and as a collective. In my opinion, things tend to work best when the team changes are more incremental than radical and having a plan for regular but not too-frequent change is a hallmark of great teams.

Personally I love helping a team take greater ownership of their destiny, start challenging the constraints (both real and perceived) around their decision-making and really drive value.

And not only is the end-state amazing, but the journey is enjoyable too.

How do you strike the delicate balance between the desire for team stability and the necessity for team evolution?

Curious about how to better navigate this shift from good to great? I’d love to chat about unlocking your team’s full potential.

Drop me a mail.

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