Effective Team Membership ~ Respect

December 2, 2009 lonnie.haire

“I’m not concerned with your liking or disliking me… all i ask is that you respect me…” ~jackie robinson

i’d like to spend some time talking about respect, or organizing for respect. specifically in context of a collaborative vs cooperative agile team environment. i think this context will provide enough familiarity for most while providing a point of reference for others.

respect [verb]: to show regard or consideration for: to respect someone’s rights. ~(dictionary.com)

can cooperation occur irrespective of any individual’s respect for another? imho – ‘yes’. to effectively cooperate with others, you usually require a binary response toward those you need to cooperate with. ‘can i or can’t i work with him/her?’ or ‘do i like or dislike him/her?’ the more positive responses you have towards the others, the more effective the cooperation will be. should conflict arise among this kind of team, the results may vary based on the dynamics:

  • the majority influences the minority [mob rule]
  • a group reaches consensus to avoid conflict [groupthink]
  • the minority remains silent to avoid conflict or being ostracized [spiral of silence]

~ (wikipedia.com)

there are other plausible results, but so far, none seem conducive to ‘me’ thinking that leads to ‘we’ thinking, or inline with a team environment where respect exists for others. that is not to say respect does not exist on a cooperative team, just that it’s not necessary or required. agile teams organized in this way will typically find guidance from a single source, either an individual or a sub-group of the team, utilizing a fraction of the knowledge and skills to execute on the goal(s). total ownership may not exist because a portion of the team conceded in some way. quality suffers in every way: definition, analysis, construction, and testing.

on the other hand, can collaboration occur irrespective of any individual’s respect for another? imho – ‘no’. i think respect is essential for collaborative agile teams. collaboration incites conflict. reasoning and results are challenged to gain a shared understanding of the goal(s). input is provided by all, digested, and actioned based on gained knowledge. those involved participate, challenge, and compete with one another to gain consensus. the process is facilitated for, rather than guided toward, progress. there simply exists a certain level of respect to accomplish this kind of team environment.

successfully collaborative agile teams require a level of respect not essential for cooperative teams to accomplish a similar set(s) of goals. i think respect is present for each team. in a previous post on pride i mentioned ‘me vs we thinking’ and how the subtle differences have contrary organizational systems with impactfully differing natural consequences. collaborative and cooperative teams are contrary organizational systems. ‘respect’ is a natural consequence of one and not the other.

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