Thinking in teams

Professor Stanley Eisenstat teaches a notoriously hard computer programming course at Yale University. At some point Eisenstat started tracking how long it took for his students to complete assignments. His data revealed that for getting an A, the fastest students outpaced the slowest by a ratio of 10:1.

This would imply that organizations have a great incentive to hire those who can go 10 times faster. But those were individual assignments. How does team performance compare? At IBM, 3800 different projects were compared for team performance. How much faster were the fastest teams from the slowest? 10x? Or less than 10x?

It turns out that for work that the best team could do in 1 week, a slow team took two thousand weeks!

The professional world today is designed around individuals. Appraisals, promotions, hiring and everything else operates in this manner. Perhaps the team is a more sensible unit to consider and design organizations around.

The difference in this thinking is a factor that ranges somewhere between 10 and 2000.

Source: Scrum – The art of doing twice the work in half the time by Jeff Sutherland

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