Effective teamwork is the foundation of the success of companies and organizations, not only those operating on the basis of agile methodologies. In times of growing globalization and the increasing popularity of remote work, distributed teams more than ever need tools to support them in effective cooperation, such as the popular Jira, Trello or Confluence provided by Atlassian. The agile tools and methods of work have gained popularity especially in the era of the pandemic, which has successfully accelerated many trends and directions such as migration to the cloud, information security, ecological issues or awareness of the impact of technology on societies that we’ve been noticing for some time now. So what is the future for us and will teams survive “long-distance relationships”? We ask experts from the Agile & Atlassian Competency Center at Sii Poland, Atlassian Platinum Solution Partner, who support clients in optimizing the organization’s work through an agile transformation. We decided to make use of their experience and ask them to share their observations on the specifics of today’s teamwork and forecast the future of teams’ cooperation.
“The taste and smell of information”
Urszula Kosicka, Agile Coach at Sii Poland
Everything indicates that in the future, artificial intelligence will be replacing a wider and wider range of human competencies. However, in my opinion, the need to obtain and exchange information between people won’t change, and our brilliant human mind and our senses will continue to play the main role in it.
Each of us has our individual pattern of thinking and processing information. According to the current knowledge, depending on the dominance of one of the perceptual channels, three dominant patterns of thinking, learning and communicating are distinguished: about 29% of the population are “visuals”, 34% are “audiles” and the remaining 37% are kinesthetics perceiving the world through movement, taste and smell. In today’s world of remote work, the question arises: will the sharpness of any of the human senses involved in information processing begin to blur? We will probably continue to operate with all channels, but hearing and eyesight are definitely taking the lead. Technology companies are already outdoing themselves in ideas and launching all kinds of teamwork tools that appeal to these senses. But what about the other channels of perception? Will there also be tools that appeal to the senses of smell or taste?
The amount and speed of emerging new information will require the improvement of human polysensory. Only in this way will our brain be able to effectively and permanently absorb new knowledge. This direction of the development of the human mind will certainly also translate into new models of teamwork and will be the basis for innovation in the market of remote collaboration tools.
“Expert must be able to get along”
Mateusz Szymula, Scrum Master at Sii Poland
In spite of appearances, the times of individualists are still doing quite well, but it is impossible not to notice that teamwork skills are more and more in demand, also in the IT world. Simply put, you can be a great, maybe even the best expert in your field, but now to get a high position in a company, you need to develop interpersonal skills. It’s not necessarily about being a leader, but simply about the ability to cooperate and the ability to “get along”, adapt and build relationships without giving up individual independence and assertiveness.
We often hear that machines and artificial intelligence are slowly replacing people at work, and yes, this trend will continue. A report by the World Economic Forum a few years ago announced the liquidation of 75 million jobs in favor of automation by 2022. At the same time, this void will most likely be filled with other, new professions. It can be assumed that for artificial intelligence is easier to take over individual tasks than to manage the social and complex ones – both on a micro and macro scale.
Ewelina Wińska, Enterprise Agile Coach at Sii Poland
Out of all the permanent changes that the coronavirus pandemic will bring to the world, the new way of working is likely to have the biggest impact on our lives. It turns out that while many people are now lacking the collaboration that can take place in the office, we also like the freedom that remote working offers. Therefore, hybrid work will become the norm: both employers and employees expect a combination of work at home and in the office, which is confirmed by Gartner’s research, as well as feedback from our clients. This new tendency will also lead to a change in the approach to working with people, their motivation, delegating and accounting for tasks. The approach to management is towards human2human. As managers, we should focus on effective communication in teams leading to greater transparency, empathy and developing “new ways of working” that will help us improve our processes in this new virtual reality. If we quickly revert to the pre-Covid approach, we could lose those employees soon.
That is why, at the Agile & Atlassian Competency Center, we focus on advising our clients on how they can use technology and adapt their processes to stimulate innovation and new layers of productivity.
“Not every group makes a team”
Marek Konderski, Scrum Master at Sii Poland
The great thing about teamwork is the fact that team capabilities are greater than the sum of what its members can do separately. And paradoxically, even groups that are not teams because of having different, unrelated goals may benefit from teamwork. For example in a situation where we can just ask something the person sitting at the next desk. Or simply enjoy the interaction with others, which, in my opinion, was greatly underestimated before the pandemic.
However, not every group makes a team. Although under the right conditions, it can become one. In times of remote work, it’s more difficult than when we can meet every day in the office. The challenge here is not only to organize a communication and information exchange, but also to manage interpersonal relations in a group that doesn’t meet face to face.
Therefore, there will be a demand for people who can make an efficient and friendly onboarding process where a newly hired employee smoothly joins a well-working team.
Let’s remember it’s not a spontaneous process. Perhaps there’s no name for this role yet. Or maybe scrum masters, coaches or specially trained HR specialists could do it. Who exactly it will be – we don’t know yet, but a completely new niche and a place for a new profession appear on the market in front of our eyes.
“Great achievements are no longer just individuals’ merits”
Rafał Chomik, Junior System Administrator at Sii Poland
Once upon a time, great discoveries were attributed to individuals. Today, most new inventions or discoveries are defined as the results of cooperation between countries, enterprises, corporations or simply… teams.
We live in a rapid ever-developing world, and the multitude of information that surrounds us, as well as the nuances of technology, force us to join our efforts if we want to efficiently achieve a goal.
Things that our ancestors once considered impossible dreams are now becoming a reality, thanks to teamwork. The first-ever flight by plane was constructed thanks to the cooperation of two brothers from Ohio in the USA, a moon landing was made possible only thanks to the joint efforts of many scientists from around the world working together under the name of NASA, and the first-ever image of a black hole was obtained as part of the international project “Event Horizon Telescope”.
There are many more examples like this, and in my opinion, they show us that, regardless of preference, we are often forced to work as a team and collaborate if we want to survive in today’s world.
“What matters is “something” that connects us”
Joanna Bajda, Administrator Systemów w Sii Polska
You know it’s time to go back to work in the office when you see the confused gaze of the courier, to whom you opened the door only in your shirt and underwear, and the mascara, unused in months, has dried up to a stone. But are you sure? For some, working from home may be just fine. It does not have to be dictated by the character, or personality traits of these people, but by the situation in which we find ourselves. It is a privilege to be able to work, study, establish professional, and private contacts in the privacy of one’s own homes.
So what is the future of contemporary teams? Bright in my opinion! Regardless of whether they will remain virtual, or return to their traditional form. The IT industry has been working partially remotely for years, in teams scattered around the world. Direct contact, although important, is not the most important factor connecting people. What counts is “something”, a common language, sense of humor, affinity, similar interests, mutual respect, and honesty. For this the right leader who will put tasks on the kanban; a colleague who shares his knowledge, or will bring some groceries if you are quarantined. The difficult situation in which we find ourselves verifies whether we are a team, or just collaborators.
“Diversity – it works!”
Tomasz Michalski, Project Manager at Sii Poland
2 + 2 = 5. Who would disagree with it at a time when the word “team” is inflected in all cases, in the context of the specific and measurable benefits of teamwork where the conscious and joint effort of a group is greater than the sum of results the same people would achieve if they worked individually. Teamwork… just works. Everything indicates that we can expect more benefits of teamwork, not only as a result of better recognition of the mechanisms supporting it but also as the effect of having supporting tools that are constantly being improved.
As I feel that this thesis doesn’t need to be defended, I would like to focus on team diversity – one of the factors of the phenomenon of teamwork success that in my opinion is especially important.
Some time ago I had the opportunity to complete postgraduate studies in which the accepted practice is to work on business cases, which takes place in teams of several people (6-7 people). Throughout the study period, there was a rule that the structure of individual teams must stay unchanged. It implied the need to create an optimal squad of the teams so that they not only could work out the best solutions but also ensure a good atmosphere while doing it.
When divided into teams, the main premise was to achieve diversity – from gender, age, professional experience, industry, hierarchy level, nature of work, to the personality profile. As a result, the teams were a mix of very different personality types and experiences. After going through the initial period of friction and working out the modus operandi, even skeptics admitted that the quality and results of cooperation of so formed teams exceeded their wildest expectations: teams efficiently dealt with complex issues, very often in a creative way, often enriching the process with an element of fun.
This and other experiences confirm my conviction that this diversity of the team (with certain boundary conditions and after meeting such conditions as common goals, agreed principles of cooperation, open communication, etc.) translates positively into the effectiveness of its work. I suppose that this mechanism will remain functional also in the future, allowing the team to reveal its full potential, which is less likely in the case of highly homogeneous teams.
“Responsibility for a common goal”
Maciej Szostek, Competency Center Manager at Sii Poland
“He who pays the piper calls the tune” – who has never thought that way? Exactly… This is a fairly common approach not only on the B2C, but also B2B services market. Is it working? Less and less. It works when both parties consciously enter this cooperation model and the supplier can accept himself in a dependent role.
And is it possible to find a better model where no one is privileged to put himself in an entitled position? In my experience, yes.
We have been identifying value streams for some time and this allows us to organize work in the most effective way, although usually, these are inter-departmental temporary units aimed at delivering specific value in a given company. More and more often, however, I observe that the cooperation of all stakeholders, regardless of organizational affiliation, is the key to success. The team is not necessarily made of people from one organization. I perceive very positively customers who have abandoned the mentality of the master and vassal in the name of partnership cooperation and creating multidisciplinary teams that provide added value. The ordering party, supplier, supplier technology partner, and even different suppliers work as a team to achieve the common goal.
And teamwork for me is, above all, a sense of responsibility for achieving this goal. Regardless of the omnipresent globalization that has accelerated in the time of the COVID-19 pandemic, regardless of whether we work in one room, using our mother tongue, or a foreign language while connecting from different corners of the world – pursuing a common goal, having the courage to commit mistakes and admitting the right of others to do so along with taking responsibility for what we do as a team make us capable of achieving anything.
“The driving force of trust“
Karol Gailitis, Scrum Master at Sii Poland
Today we are wondering what teamwork will look like in the future. But what exactly are a team and work? What is the universe and will it ever be possible to reconcile quantum mechanics with the theory of relativity? Couldn’t the end of Game of Thrones really be better? Phew… Stop 🙂 Maybe I have gone a bit too far in my considerations and finding answers to the above questions is beyond the scope of this short paragraph, but there are some aspects of teamwork that are definitely worth paying attention to.
Self-made man. It’s a myth – no one got to great things alone, as Arnold Schwarzenegger strongly emphasized in one of his great speeches. When he came to the US with only a bag of training clothes and a $ 20 bill, his bodybuilders’ friends provided him with pillows, plates, cutlery, in short, everything he was missing. We are often assisted by other people in laying the foundation for our achievements – a “team” of other people consisting of friends, family and those ones who are sympathetic to us.
“A team is not a group of people who work together. A team is a group of people who trust each other”- to quote Simon Sink. A completely unorthodox view of what it means to create a team, to be in a team, to work in a team. Simon Sinek in his other works also shows how to build such trust, and one of the methods is the motto of the American Marines “I watch your back so that you can watch the back of the one who is in front of you”.
It seems that some specialists in motivation, team building and management as well as broadly understood business transformation and more, more and more associate the future of teamwork with issues such as trust in the team and in business in general, building a sense of community, honesty or even righteousness, respect or a sense of deeper meaning in what we do together every day.
The Agile & Atlassian Competency Center operates in two areas – broadly understood agility and the Atlassian ecosystem. Currently, the team consists of over 30 experienced consultants and has several dozen successful agile transformations in its portfolio. As Atlassian Platinum Solution Partner, Sii Poland comprehensively supports clients in the full use of the potential of solutions available within the Atlassian ecosystem. These activities include the implementation, maintenance and optimization of tools, as well as training and the provision of licenses. Projects are delivered both in the on-premise and increasingly popular cloud-based version.
This article has been prepared by experts from Sii’s Agile & Atlassian Competency Center.