When a group of people is selected to work together on a project, they probably don’t know each other. Management puts them in the starting line and off they go toward a goal. With time, they eventually become a team. It can take time, maybe from 6 month to a year. It depends on different factors: collocation, sitting space, pair programming, pair testing, etc…These are factors that can accelerate “the gelling” of a team.
Finally, they create a culture. Something that uniquely identifies them. Teams with culture stand out from the crowd. Other people know about them. For some reason or another, they transmit it outside of the boundary of their workspace.
I worked in some teams that I thought were successful. There is no simple recipe to it. It’s rather hard actually. But it’s worth getting there. I could not come back to a team where people sit in their corner, don’t pair or play silly games like “how high are your pants” (I save this one for another post).
One pattern that I observed is a simple one: When starting to work in a new group, take the time to talk about how you are going to work together. Walk through the life of a requirement coming to the team. Discuss what you do with it, how you get started on it. Who is involved in every step, what is role and expectation of each of the members of the group. Draw a simple diagram with people and events. Talk about the big events and “when are we done?”
Do a couple of iterations (I hope your iterations are no longer than 15 days. 1 week are the best) and take a fun quiz. Let the quiz guide the discussions. Approach it with honesty and an open mind. Listen to the conversations around the questions. Reflect on the results, adapt and become a better team.