Scrum Master / Agile Coach / Scrum Trainer

Some things about good teams

As there are many references from sources that I like to ‘Leading Teams’ from Richard Hackman, I read the book earlier this year. And although I read a lot, there are not always interesting notes to share. But with ‘Leading Teams’ there certainly are, mainly because – I think – in the Agile and Lean community there are many practices and experiments based on (or, if they aren’t based on it, empirically supported) the ideas in this book. Therefore, in this blog the notes that I think are (most) interesting to others to complement or deepen the way we work with teams.


The conditions for team effectivess - structure of the book

There are 5 conditions for team effectiveness:

And the effectiveness of a team can be measured by:

Some of these might be trivial, but are hard to master. Hackman mentions about the direction: ‘the direction given work teams is vague or ambiguous simply because nobody has taken the trouble to think hard about group purposes’.


Why do stable teams perform better?

I think this is very interesting from the research of Hackman, as we try to have long-lived, stable teams. But in some cased this is hard to reach.


Among the reasons Hackman gives are:

Structural features (for 'enabling structure') that are key

Three aspects of group interactions that have special leverage in shaping team effectiveness

Coaching should have focus on the three aspects of group interaction that have special leverage in shaping team effectiveness:

Coaching strategy

Especially interesting for people like me that are involved in coaching teams are the types of interventions and focal performance process that you focus on in different stages of the team:

Something about leadership

There has been written a lot about this subject in the book, but what the most interesting is to me, is the following sentence: ‘A leader cannot make a team be great, but a leader can create conditions that increase the chances that moments of greatness will occur – and, moreover, can provide a little boost or nudge now and then to help members take the fullest possible advantage of those favorable conditions.’


I realize this is not new and that probably most of us agree on this, but I like that this has been written in 2002 already and explains it very clear and succinctly.


There is a lot more to it, also based on your personal preferences and type of work you do or type of team you are in. For sure, if you work within a team or work with teams often, this is a must-read.

Mark Uijen de Kleijn