Out of Mana - when causative power spring has dried

Being a lucky git, I've grown up (techwise, in terms of professional career) in very good teams, surrounded by decent team mates & coached by awesome leaders. I didn't discover that today, I've already written at least one post about that some day ago. Based on my professional experience gained under these circumstances I was quite convinced that overall team productivity (and its measurements - for instance, shaky velocity) is dependant mainly on technical aspects of work (so-called "workshop & tools") - whether they are being done right or not so:

  • engineering knowledge & skills
  • craftsman instinct / common-sense (aka software development "talent")
  • problem / domain complexity
  • quality of analysis / design
  • maturity & adequacy of tooling
  • solution scale & inertia

Technical doesn't mean pure technology - it's also the way you perform analysis, gather & maintain data, etc. - all the substantive factors. But the older I get, the more I realize how dramatically far from truth I was ...

What has more impact?

The soft stuff. How people feel. What they think & how they interact (among themselves). Just from the top of my head:

  • lack of bottom-up motivation (of individuals), energy, initiative
  • no ownership urge, no accountability (feeling responsible for product)
  • no chemistry within the team, no sense of belonging or even open conflict
  • missing field leadership - low-level 'vision' of how things should be done; or even willpower to build such a vision up
  • limited understanding of what is being created & why it's being created (& interest to get this understanding ...)
  • deficit of trust / respect / goodwill (to cooperate)
  • misaligned priorities, hidden agendas
  • surrounding mist of disinformation, no transparency at all
  • no feedback or even backstabbing instead of feedback
  • wrong, constrained people in key positions - acting as bottlenecks and / or brakes

OK, it's not a big discovery - you all know any of these can be detrimental. But it's a huge understatement. Each one of those separately can cause a real disaster. When combined they may easily reduce team's ability to deliver to practically zero.

Null.

No causative power at all. From a team that could (or even did in the past) achieve awesome things in other circumstances.

De-va-sta-ting. Demolishing. Crushing. True shock for the careful observer who's able to put two and two together.

And in this particular case of mana (quite the contrary to what we know from computer games ...) waiting for refill (hoping that the problem will solve itself on its own) is not a proper solution (it may make things even worse) - the only way to get team's mana back is to remove the root problem. The faster, the better. Only then mahna mahna will be back:

Pic: © alswart - Fotolia.com