The success of team work, quote by Henry Ford

Exploring team dynamics

Topic of this short talk: team / group dynamics. The point is that you need to be aware of any dynamics happening in your team / group!

Contents of the presentation:

Slide 1: Intro video (ants)

Nice illustration of actual teamwork 🙂

Slide 2: Teamwork

  • Teamwork is the corner stone of any successful undertaking.
  • Teamwork is an individual skill.
  • The purpose of this presentation is to make you aware of the importance of team dynamics.
  • We will look at some examples, and how we can explore team dynamics.

Slide 3: How does a high-performing team look like?

  • Diverse members
  • Diversity of viewpoints, opinions
  • Open and clear communication
  • Managing conflict
  • Clear objectives
  • Trust
  • Participative leadership
  • Positive atmosphere
  • Engagement

The list is long! It’s not so obvious to become a high-performing team.

Slide 4: Putting a group of people together does not make a team.

In case you didn’t know. Just putting people together and hoping “team” magic will appear, or self-organisation will occur; is most of the time wishful thinking. (I have witnessed this in projects …)

Slide 5: Model of group/team development: Tuckman (1965)

One of the basic models about team/group formation. Note the different phases of growing as a team are necessary to become “performing”.

Slide 6: Belbin team roles (1981)

9 team roles: an effective team has members that cover the 9 key roles in managing the team. (cf. Belbin website)

Slide 7: Communication inside the team is a key indicator of whether they are performing or not.

The quality of communication in the team will also directly affect the communication with the stakeholders! Do you want your team to communicate with stakeholders in this way?!

Slide 8: One bad apple can cause rot in the entire cart by altering the behaviour of everyone.

Yes, this is outcome of scientific research.

Examples of bad apples in a group: the passive-aggressive group eroder, the blunt/rude dominant, the controller, the slacker, the anti-establishment guy, the divide-and-conquer schemer, the arrogant fat head

Slide 9: Groupthink

Groupthink is a term coined by social psychologist Irving Janis (1972), occurs when a group makes faulty decisions because group pressures lead to a deterioration of “mental efficiency, reality testing, and moral judgment”.

Groups affected by groupthink ignore alternatives and tend to take irrational actions that dehumanise other groups. A group is especially vulnerable to groupthink when its members are similar in background, when the group is insulated from outside opinions, and when there are no clear rules for decision making.


Slide 10: How to explore team dynamics?

  • Listen to the way team members are communicating
  • Observe behaviours: can you recognise certain team roles? Who has an introvert personality, who’s extrovert?
  • Observe how conflict is managed

Slide 11: Don’t be a Scrum Zombie (Thanks to Henrik Kniberg)

Please don’t!

Slide 12: How to explore team dynamics?

I suggest for team building: a classic scrum.

Slide 13, 14, 15: How to explore team dynamics? Team drawer

A team building exercise.

Slide 16: Improv theatre exercises

There’s a book about improv for agile teams.

Slide 17: Quote by Henry Ford

“Coming together is a beginning, keeping together is progress, working together is success.”

Slide 18: Be aware of the dynamics in your team!

'We like to bring together people from radically different fields and wait for the friction to produce heat, light and magic. Sometimes it takes a while.'

Dynamics of a team: creating a team manifesto, defining our principles and values

When you put a group of individuals together, don’t expect them to act as a team “in a magical way” from day 1.

'We like to bring together people from radically different fields and wait for the friction to produce heat, light and magic. Sometimes it takes a while.'

‘We like to bring together people from radically different fields and wait for the friction to produce heat, light and magic. Sometimes it takes a while.’ (author: Brad Veley)

Half a century ago, Tuckman already described the different stages of group development: the team model: Forming – Storming – Norming – Performing.

Tuckman 5 stages of team development

Tuckman 5 stages of team development

Tuckman stages of group development


Let’s explore the “dynamics” and emotional intelligence of a team and how a common understanding can help the team to get to a “well performing” state (besides the emotional intelligence, it’s absolutely necessary to have good technical skills and modern day engineering practices, e.g. in the context of product / software development – but that’s not the subject of this article).

It’s known that emotions and behaviours in a group are contagious and can have a dramatic impact on a team. After all, we are humans and not robots are we? You could say, one person is more professional than the other and can put aside any emotions in a professional environment. On the other hand, some degree of emotional binding is necessary to get to an effective team.

What’s important for a team?

We would like our team to be focused, be collaborative and have a sense for common purpose.

The key is to establish a social contract: a team manifesto.

A team manifesto is a team-designed agreement for a set of values, behaviors and social norms. It’s a vision for the team built on a common set of principles and values.

An example of the characteristics of a team with high positivity / high productivity (source: team coaching international)

Team high positivity high productivity

Team high positivity high productivity
Source: Team coaching international

In general, a set of positivity strengths and productivity strengths are necessary to come to a well performing team.

A team assessment by doing some team diagnostics can reveal the current state and determine points for improvement.

How do we get going to define a team manifesto?

In case of a new team, you can do a profile card exercise so that people get to know each other.

You can also do a personal agility rating exercise. This is useful for individuals themselves and for a coach as he can use this info to improve on agility on an individual basis in the future.

Next, you let the team define what it means to be a “team”.

We also let the team define what “quality” means.

The team discusses any other principles and values it considers important.

Next, the team garters all the input on a big flipchart or board and creates a team manifesto.

Create a manifesto

Create a manifesto

Please note: when working with multiple teams, the teams could define a manifesto per team – this seems the most natural as teams will be different. You could also define a manifesto on the level of the project / programme, including a vision for the product or service being built.