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What are the signs of a successful development team? What qualities does a team of developers need to possess in order to be successful?

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closed as too broad by gnat, GlenH7, MichaelT, Kilian Foth, Giorgio Oct 6 '13 at 21:37

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5 Answers 5

Skill of course, but more than that, here are my criteria:

  1. Passion for programming and knowledge,
  2. Always a sense of urgency on a project,
  3. Willingness to reach out for help,
  4. Sense of humor,
  5. Willingness to stay late and get it done (in exchange for flexible schedules),
  6. It is annoying we know, but someone who provides regular (even if informal) status updates,

I have one other criterion that I like to see, but it is subjective, that is:

  1. At least 25%+ of the team should be tenured in their career. You need to have the calm, cool, collected, around-the-block sort who can illustrate the been-there-done-that-and-would-not-choose-that-again scenarios.
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Urgency is for ambulances: making noises to pass the red light. Good managers that keep developers focused do a better job. Stay late in exchange for flexible schedules sounds to me like EA. Work 10-12 hours and perhaps later we can give you 2 or 3 days off. –  graffic Jan 31 '11 at 22:22
    
Urgency becomes of paramount importance when you are both accountable and responsible for timely delivery. Too many programmers and their managers seem to forget those who pay the money for their software and services want things in reasonable timelines. –  Xepoch Jan 31 '11 at 22:27
    
Urgency has to be balanced by focused, easier times. Too much of urgency and you have burnout. Too much of "slow time" and you have slips. Of course, focus does not mean working at a leisurely or lazy pace. –  talonx Feb 5 at 5:58
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These 3 points from Alistair Cockburn's Software Development in the 21st century (PPT file) sum it up for me -

  • Can they easily detect something needs attention? (Good at Looking Around)
  • Will they care enough to do something about it? (Pride-in-work; Amicability)
  • Can they effectively pass along the information? (Proximity; face-to-face)
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This video on InfoQ made a great argument : the shared goal of a project should be clear, and big enough that it's bigger than anyone on the team.

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+1 for a clear goal. The old joke about walking on water and building software from a spec both being easy if it's frozen has a lot of truth to it. –  Mason Wheeler Oct 8 '10 at 16:32
    
I'd like to add to this that knowing what success looks like is critical. There's a great technique called Threshold of Success which can help with this. –  Michael Oct 9 '10 at 18:11
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Balance is important as well. If you have 4 technical studs that only like to design architecture the teams talent level may be thru the roof, but not a good team. You might need one of those guys/gals, a guy/gal who likes to implement functionality based on the architecture layed out, a guy/gal who is really almost a DBA, etc.

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  • Cross functional
  • Include QA people and analysts
  • Less than 7 persons
  • Self managed
  • Desire to help each others
  • Capacity for self-evaluation
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