Products need to be delivered quickly and with impending deadlines. Big products often lead to bigger teams to the rescue. The expectation is that products get delivered faster and to a higher quality with this approach. In reality, you just get firefights, less effective colleagues and battling authority amongst peers.

The pursuit of hitting big targets often leads to throwing time, energy and worryingly money at a problem and hoping this will be enough. This operating model is not sustainable. We need to curve this expectation, work smarter and communicate more effectively to achieve great experiences. This pushes confidence and creates great customer trust.

Historically large teams are riddled with bureaucracy and overly opinionated chaos. It becomes a battleground of emotions, and focus is frequently lost. In this case, too many cooks spoil the broth!

Can we avoid this? Certainly, simply shift the responsibility down to the teams. Then set achievable deadlines. No team can make an impact if they are blocked, project ownership should be about managing and enabling people. Let teams own their work, and deliver at pace. The rise of Objectives and Key Results (OKR’s) is one of many techniques that foster personal development, without being connected to a performance indicator. This is being adopted in my current team, where cross-discipline peers are reaching out and improving personal growth amongst peers. This has already paid off during meetings, as the technical barrier is being brought down.

Attitudes are changing, we have noticed this at Slate. We started fostering and upskilling our working peers from small teams only. Importantly you want a drafting effect around your teams, bringing team peers closer and working more effectively. We believe small agile teams foster great experiences. One of Slate’s long term friends Richard James (who is head of ways of working for Nationwide) explains why his experience has shown him smaller teams are better an how they’ve worked at Nationwide.

Delivering products with multiple disciplines is hard, it often surfaces pain points that you may not have existed previously in your workflow. Flooding teams with processes often leads to failure. Why introduce this? Big teams operate at larger models, and cannot communicate consistently as quick as their smaller counterparts.

Why change?

Culture change is hard, especially with a large staff footprint. Attitudes and behaviour are fine-grained. But change can prosper better experiences, for colleagues and more importantly customers

Staff will ultimately drive your business in one direction, it is about the long game. While delivering at pace is now expected, managers need teams that can deliver in a timely fashion. Small teams can unlock potential and fast forward to your delivery.

Creating an impact

Setting expectations and shifting the responsibility down the line, is now becoming normality. Management is leading and supporting staff, unblocking and creating frictionless environments.

Facilitating communication is key, it surfaces information to the relevant people quicker. Upskilling staff with positive role models is the defacto, so much so it's in our blood at Slate.

The unwritten truth is that getting to know your team is of great importance, as Callum demystifies and uncovers [LINK TO ARTICLE]. Having the right people in the right teams, unlocks potential and reduces risk, but more importantly creates confidence in delivery.

Communicate, but why?

In a world where we can communicate through multiple mediums, we’re simply not doing it well. We see it all the time! Haven’t we all been at the end of an email chain for a meeting about a meeting? Of course, we have we can! But must do better.

Learn to say “No”, not every meeting is needed, your time is precious and you have little of it! Manage it, and spend it wisely.

Focus is one of the hardest achievements in the workplace, bringing staff into a 2+ hour morning meeting will result in a lack of concentration, productivity and business will be hindered. Compare this to small bitesize nuggets make it digestible and easy to takeaway.

Delivering results can be hard, it was only recently I paired up with a colleague Jonathon, to tackle a solution, I had already solved. It saved the client time and delivered results ahead of schedule. This is a culture that should be invested in, it accelerates the delivery pace and lifts morale around team members.

Making an impact with small teams requires investment. Bringing in the right people for the right meeting, in the right place. A good example of this is colocating team members for change requirements. But bring key impacted peers, adding an email group wastes time energy and resources. Rather than the lengthy email that takes 30 minutes to notice, then accept. Invigorate, and re-energize your team, push the ownership to the right people, then set realistic achievable goals.

We believe in small effective teams, our bets have paid off. Reach out to us and let us know how you’re getting on!