Fascinating Team Work


I’m just back from XP2015 in Helsinki. It was my first time at XP and it was great. Obviously this was partly because our paper won the Best Research Paper Award :-). But it was more than that. There was a great energy about being at a Conference where there was a good mix of academics and industry practitioners. The conversations were interesting, and people were engaged. So, it feels like a good time to start a blog about my academic journey. As much as anything I want to keep track of the ideas I come across and generate through my work. I want to be able to look back at them, and see how they grow.

The first thing I read on returning from XP was this article about Why Some Teams Are Smarter Than Others. This is about research into team ‘smartness’ done by researchers from MIT, Carnegie Mellon and Union College. They put 697 people into groups and discovered that some of the teams were ‘smarter’ than others. When they investigated further, they found this wasn’t linked to the IQ of the participants, but other factors. Smart teams, it seems, have three characteristics: a) members contribute more equally to discussions rather than letting one or two people dominate, b) members are better at reading complex emotional states of others, and c) they have more women members. What a fascinating result, and one that makes me think about the woeful lack of women working in software development. Software is transforming every aspect of our lives, so we need to ensure that smart teams are building it. Agile methods are transforming the way people work together to design and build software. Sounds to me like we need more women involved!