Building teams - where our training starts

· June 5, 2020

At School of Applied Technology, our accelerated career program is running in small teams, using Mob Programming. We have found that this gives us the most and best learning in a short amount of time. In this setup the tight group that you are in becomes both your best teachers but also, from time to time, you will be the teacher others in the group.

For these reasons, we are emphasizing and trying to give our mobs a good start to become a team. We start already before we start - on our introduction day (that is the Friday before the course start), by having the newly formed mobs go through a simple exercise based on the brilliant book Five Dysfunctions of a Team, by Patrick Lencioni. I have written about one version of this exercise here.

During the first weeks of the accelerated career program, we have a couple of other very hands-on exercise and lectures talking about the Tuckman model and how to behave, support and survive in the different stages of how a group develops into a team. This is based on a workshop by our good friend Martin Wasielewski.

Finally, we have teamed up with AlvaLabs to do personality tests as part of recruitment. This data can then be used in a very powerful way in a workshop created by AlvaLabs. In the first weeks, we run this workshop with each of the mobs and that helps them to establish working agreements for the teams.

We have now run these workshops and tutorials for about 4 classes and I have to say that the result blows me away. The teams much faster come to the realization that they are depending on each other. Also, the mobs talk about cooperation and behaviour towards each other in a deeper way than most teams I’ve seen in action. Finally, after just a few days, we see a lot of teams forming up, starting to depend on each other and most important care for each other.

Our accelerated career program is not to become programmers. It’s about becoming developers. A key skill for developers today is a solid understanding of how teams work and operate. Our developers get this training from the get-go of the course and then keep working on developing these skills. And that means that we have seen many of our “junior” developers take on responsibilities to develop the teams they end up in for our customers.

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