team learning

  • If the technology is new, you very likely don’t have anyone on the teams who has been trained on this new technology. This fact ends up scaring off many leaders, or they occasionally think they have to partner with a third party that does have the necessary experience. But if the technology is important to you, your company needs to learn that technology. And the sooner the better.

    The good news is that this is rarely that difficult. Your best engineers are probably already considering this technology and would love to be able to explore further.

    In the best organizations, it is the empowered engineers that often identify these enabling technologies and proactively bring the possibilities to the leaders, usually in the form of a prototype.

    — EMPOWERED: Ordinary People, Extraordinary Products (Silicon Valley Product Group) by Marty Cagan

  • It’s about shared learning. One of the keys to having a team of missionaries rather than a team of mercenaries is that the team has learned together. They have seen the customer’s pain together, they have watched together as some ideas failed and others worked, and they all understand the context for why this is important and what needs to be done.

    — INSPIRED: How to Create Tech Products Customers Love (Silicon Valley Product Group) by Marty Cagan

  • Good teams have product, design, and engineering sit side by side, and they embrace the give and take between the functionality, the user experience, and the enabling technology.

    Good teams get their inspiration and product ideas from their vision and objectives, from observing customers’ struggle, from analyzing the data customers generate from using their product, and from constantly seeking to apply new technology to solve real problems.

    Good teams understand who each of their key stakeholders are, they understand the constraints that these stakeholders operate in, and they are committed to inventing solutions that work not just for users and customers, but also work within the constraints of the business.

    Good teams are skilled in the many techniques to rapidly try out product ideas to determine which ones are truly worth building.

    Good teams love to have brainstorming discussions with smart thought leaders from across the company.

    Good teams are constantly trying out new ideas to innovate, but doing so in ways that protect the revenue and protect the brand.

    Good teams insist they have the skill sets on their team, such as strong product design, necessary to create winning products.

    Good teams ensure that their engineers have time to try out the prototypes in discovery every day so that they can contribute their thoughts on how to make the product better.

    Good teams engage directly with end users and customers every week, to better understand their customers, and to see the customer’s response to their latest ideas.

    Good teams know that many of their favorite ideas won’t end up working for customers, and even the ones that could will need several iterations to get to the point where they provide the desired outcome.

    Good teams understand the need for speed and how rapid iteration is the key to innovation, and they understand this speed comes from the right techniques and not forced labor.

    Good teams make high‐integrity commitments after they’ve evaluated the request and ensured they have a viable solution that will work for the customer and the business.

    Good teams instrument their work so they can immediately understand how their product is being used and make adjustments based on the data.

    Good teams integrate and release continuously, knowing that a constant stream of smaller releases provides a much more stable solution for their customers.

    Good teams obsess over their reference customers.

    Good teams celebrate when they achieve a significant impact to the business results.

    — INSPIRED: How to Create Tech Products Customers Love by Marty Cagan

  • On building learning organizations

    Personal mastery: Continually clarifying and refining our personal visions, and seeing reality objectively.

    Building shared vision: The capacity to translate individual visions into collective visions that galvanize a group of people based on what they’ll really like to create together.

    Mental models: Learning to unearth our own personal pictures of the world, to bring them to the surface so that we see how they impact our actions.

    Team learning: Spending time together to suspend assumptions and come up with new ideas.

    Systems thinking: What causes patterns of behavior? It is a framework for seeing the whole picture instead of individual things. The purpose is to make the full picture clearer, to see patterns between components or subsystems.

    Feedback: Any reciprocal flow of influence. Think of circles of influence in order to get things done, rather than linear processes.

    In building learning organizations there is no ultimate destination or end state, only a lifelong journey. “This work requires great reservoirs of patience… but I believe the results we achieve are more sustainable because the people involved have really grown. It also prepares people for the ongoing journey. As we learn, grow, and tackle more systemic challenges, things do not get easier.”

    — The Fifth Discipline: The Art & Practice of The Learning Organization by Peter M. Senge

  • Habits are behavioral autopilot, and that’s why they’re such a critical tool for leaders. Leaders who can instill habits that reinforce their teams’ goals are essentially making progress for free. They’ve changed behavior in a way that doesn’t draw down the Rider’s reserves of self-control. Habits will form inevitably, whether they’re formed intentionally or not. You’ve probably created lots of team habits unwittingly. If your staff meetings always start out with genial small talk, then you’ve created a habit. You’ve designed your meeting autopilot to yield a few minutes of warm-up small talk. The hard question for a leader is not how to form habits but which habits to encourage.

    — Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard by Chip Heath, Dan Heath

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