5 Whys is a blog about technical leadership in the software world.

Change your mind: your product is your team

The following is a guest post by Jose Ramón Díaz, Agile coach at Biko.

About Jose:

My experience has always been in software development in the Java world. I am currently in charge of a development team in Biko2.
I am interested in promoting the teams to become effective and efficient, while also enjoying their work. I try to do my best as agile coach.

You should change your mind about what you are building when you become project manager or team leader (as a boss).

Forget your product. Look at your team. Suddenly, you do not have to worry about technical decisions or pretty interfaces. You must realize that the basics of your work has changed. My own inspiration is the mantra "team = product".

The product will be as good as your team is. The behaviour of your team will determine the qualities of the product. So, your product as project manager is the team. Invest in the team. This will change dramatically your efforts, now redirected to make the team to grow.

I first read that idea in the book “Software for your Head”, by Jim and Michelle McCarthy. This was annoying and shocking for me. But now I believe every little effort to improve your team is translated to the products they create. And you must be ready for that. Your behavior must change to let your people do their best. If you have been assigned as project manager recently, start studying again! (little advice: read, and read a lot!) You have no more technological related problems. I love Cockburn´s cite: “If you do NOT know anything about human behaviour, you know very little about software development”. So, stop and think about your previous work, do you really know something about people and their behaviours?

Start changing your focus. From product to team. From technology to people.

Pay attention to people and identify the phase in which your team is and what it needs to evolve. Find the right leadership at the time, but admit you can not get to become the leader, but only that person who turns mediocre teams into great teams, a great manager.

If you keep thinking about building products, these will be only as good as you were able to create managing and controlling your team. However, if you facilitate the emergence of the full potential of your team, the product will be enhanced and enriched by many people and their synergies.

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