Building a Dream Team: the Reality of a Self-Organizing Team

The volatile market and the constant progress of technology forces us to look for new improved ways to organize development teams. At the same time, the problems that arise in teams with classical types of management remain unresolved.

Many are excited by the idea that it is possible to assemble a team in a certain way, and it will perfectly cope with the task. This is what self-organizing teams are: the teams that do not require control over the fulfillment of tasks, are self-motivated and ready to take responsibility and fulfill their obligations. It sounds great, but in practice, everything is not so unambiguous.

Why a Self-Organizing Team Can’t Be a Dream Team

First of all, we need to understand what a self-organizing team is. Usually, it is given such characteristics:

  • it does not expect orders from the superiors and does everything itself
  • the fulfillment of tasks does not need to be controlled
  • participants cooperate with each other easily and without conflicts

Now we see that to meet these conditions the team should have one goal: one dream, one enemy, one test they have to overcome. Also, the psychological compatibility of the participants is important, which is genetically determined and is not subject to outside influence. Do not forget that every member of the team should also have the necessary professional skills.

So, suppose you have enough candidates, and you can select people with the same goals, values, and necessary skills. But this is not enough for their self-organization because whether the team can be self-organized or not is influenced by many more factors, such as the social environment, the level of professionalism, the psychological state at the moment, the personal goals of the applicant and on and on. It turns out that even if you manage to select perfect team members, the conditions can change and there will be a discord. It turns out that such a team is a matter of chance, and it does not always lead to a positive result, and so it is difficult to name it a dream team.

5 Practical Tips for Building a Dream Team

Since we have already found out that the miracle does not worth to wait, let’s move on to practical advice on organizing the team of the dream.

Set a clear goal

The goal is needed not only for the self-organizing team, it is necessary for any team and any kind of a productive work. The task of the customer should be clear and unbreakable. Otherwise, you can face not only problems with the organization but struggle a complete loss of the project.

Give honest estimates

Appreciate your team, their efforts and time invested in the development. And, do not exploit their dedication when it comes to the estimation. When the customer says that they need to work even faster, do not be afraid to tell him/her that they really can not do it.

The green zone

Ideally, the team timeline should be multiplied by 2. This allows you to cover risks and give developers an opportunity to have a rest. In reality, this is a utopia. However, we insist on multiplying their estimation by at least 1.25 – 1.75, if possible. If not, there is a risk of:

  • dissatisfaction of both sides
  • breakdown of deadlines and arrangements

Remember that it is up to you to ensure team members do not fade out.

Regard their interests

On a new project and a new team, it’s hard to distribute tasks on abilities at once. A trial and error stage is essential, as well as an understanding of what each employee personally wants. Find out what exactly each of them wants, the areas they want to grow in, and try to take into account these interests whenever possible. One day this will become a source of the team trust to you and a desire to help even counter to their own interests. The abuse of such trust is the worst thing you can do, so be aware if you are cheating or manipulating them.

Appreciate versatility

Ideally, people on the project should be interchangeable. You can achieve this through:

  • task rotation (as employees understand their importance, feel they grow up here and constantly develop their skills)
  • training of specialists within the team instead of hiring outside specialists (besides gratitude and loyalty of the team members, this technique will allow you to significantly reduce the cost of salary and the adaptation of a new employee).


In the end, adhering to simple rules you can get a team of involved, professional, motivated, responsible and responsive people. And what else is needed for a dream team?

Posted by Contributor