In the last few months we’ve been working on a project where the CEO (and project manager of sorts) treats us as a Team. I’ve been paying attention the way this person uses this word, in different conversations and emails. It’s a small startup that requested our experience in OpenStack to assist in building their cloud-based business. Right now, we are debating whether to continue with this project for a variety of reasons: poor management, chaos, unstable roadmap and all sorts of things that are going to produce which my friend and associate calls “success by accident” (or a direct path to failure). We definitely understand that pressure and other reasons could produce all the problems I mentioned. Those problems are not our main concern; there is a bigger one. When you don’t listen to other people, especially the ones that you hired to help you, you have a big problem.
I can spend a lot of time on the details of the situation, but right now I want to focus on the word Team and how it’s used. If you are running a business or a project or whatever you are doing with other people, you don’t have a team. You are a member of the team. You might not be at the keyboard coding or deploying, but you define requirements and manage the budget. You set deadlines and you should be open to hear feedback. In other words, you are a member of the team. If you don’t understand that, you are wrong.
I’ve never believed in hierarchies very much. I understand that there are roles, positions, and decisions that are influenced by external factors (stakeholders, clients, etc.) and other unpredictable things. I prefer to work in environments where all contributors are treated with the same level of respect. I want that for the members of our company, and I want that with our clients.
There are several ways to succeed in a business, but one of the key requirements is to have a good team. And if you have a good team, you don’t own it, you are part of it. And you should be a team player like anyone else.