In one of the articles on Smartup Network blog, we tried to explain our approach to the product development team formations. When you succeed in that step, you are now ready to create the software development team (or tech team). In this article, we will explain our approach in building a software development team to create the MVP successfully. As we mentioned formerly and will always mention, the MVP term is also our main concern in every step of the startup realization. So, it is also the same for software development team creation. During the team creation, we strongly recommend you to follow Bruce Tuckman's stages of group development. Please do not worry and keep reading, the article will not be turned into an academic paper. If you still think that it is too difficult for you to build your own team, Smartup Network is always ready for your service :).
Tuckman said that teams go through 4 stages of development: forming, storming, norming and performing. The stages start from the time that a group first meets until the project ends. In 1977, Tuckman, jointly with Mary Ann Jensen, added a fifth stage to the four stages: adjourning, which involved completing the task and breaking up the team.
In this stage, the focus should be on the people, not on the roles and responsibilities. The size of the team will differ according to the complexity of the product, but the most important team member is the technical leader. No matter how you name it, whether it is CTO, technical co-founder, software architect or development manager. This role should contain not only people and process management but also hands-on development. So, please keep away from hiring boss style people. You should think of this person not only as an employee, but also as a possible partner.
After finding the leader, It is time to create the team. In his popular law, Conway states that organizations design systems which mirror their own communication structure. Try to evaluate candidates' communication abilities before their technical ability.
Normally, the storming stage of Tuckman deals with the interrelations among the members. Additionally, We also add your product as another member to the team. Personalities may clash but the fatal problem occurs when your product vision and the members’ clash. You should arrange discussion sessions for brainstorming with the team about the product. Make your team understand the product as much as you understand. Please do not ignore the conflicts among team members and the product (member to member and member to product). It is best to detect and resolve the conflicts this early stage.
In the norming stage, It is time to build your way of working and tech design. Enforcing all of the members’ contributions is the key. Please define your documentation space where you can build the documents for definition of done, sprints, methodologies, tests and pipelines. You may not be familiar with the terms (most probably, you are not a person from a software background), but the team leader should. In this stage, your tracker is your technical leader and the team. Just help them to feel comfortable and make the best decisions. Please remember there is no final decision and every rule may change later.
This stage is the one that you want to reach to create your product. You may probably fail to reach this stage a couple of times, because of that you and the team can not overcome conflict and work together. Now, the team should be confident, motivated and familiar with the product so that they can operate without your supervision. Problems and conflicts still emerge, but they are dealt with constructively. Your team is delighted to be productive and energetic to do many tasks. At this stage, in order to use this energy efficiently, you should not lose focus on the MVP.
In the definition, this is the breaking up stage. But, we think that for startups it should be the stage of evolving from the MVP team to the maintenance team. You should convert your team so that they will focus on making the product working healthy and consistently to protect the success and growth. In this stage, you should also be more familiar about the technologies and the team formation. So, you can easily make the decisions of the team conversion.
To sum up, the Tuckman's stages will be a good guide for you. But the most important thing to keep in mind is that you also need to develop and change your approach to your team at every stage. You should be ready and competent for every next stage even if you will not be active.
Wish you the best in your startup journey...
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