Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Seven Norms of Highly Powerful Software Teams

I found this, a handwritten copy no less, while cleaning out a filing cabinet tonight. At the bottom I've written "Charlie Alfred, Education Services Manager, Object Design Inc, Object Magazine, May 1994". Apparently I've been carrying this around for almost 16 years. Since Google didn't find the article, I reproduce here for your pleasure (and so I can find it again myself).

Affinity for win/win

We strive to create an environment where the personal aspirations of each team member contribute to the goals of the team. We each are personally committed to achieving the goals of the team without sacrificing our lives outside work. We firmly believe that on the strongest teams the goals of the team agree with the goals of its members, rather than supersede them.

Common Mission

We share a common mission that is challenging, worthwhile, and clearly understood by all. This mission may be perceived by others as impossible or not worth the sacrifice. In this way, the mission helps us to identify our partners. Also, the more impossible the mission seems, the more we are forced to work together if we hope to succeed.


Quality is at the core of everything we do. If something is worth doing at all, it is worth doing right the first time.

Understanding Requirements

We strive to fully understand the requirements of the systems we plan to construct, including being acutely aware of how those requirements evolve over time. Furthermore, we actively validate our understanding of these requirements with the system's intended beneficiaries.


Individually, we each contribute strengths that counterbalance each other's weaknesses. Collectively we possess all of the skills, attitudes, and habits necessary for team success. Wherever an essential skill, attitude or habit is missing (or lacking), one or more of us makes it a priority to develop it, or we seek to add a new member who possesses it.


We are open to sources of new ideas and new ways of doing things, and use the norm to resolve conflict. We listen to each other's points of views, aware that our commitment to the same mission means that differences of opinion identify alternate paths to the same goal rather than competing paths to different goals. Also, we continually learn about and apply the latest paradigms, processes, and products in our technical, organisational and interpersonal activities.


Around here we work smarter, not necessarily harder. We sprint all out toward our goals when it is necessary to do so, but also know how to relax and rejuvenate. We make the 80/20 rule work for us. We take no shortcuts and cut no corners on the 20% of our tasks that produce 80% of our results. If any sacrifices must be made (in the interest of time), they always fall in the 80% of our activities that produce 20% of our results.

Thanks Charlie!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for re-posting this Steve. I had completely forgotten about writing it.