Mike’s Dump

May 18, 2005

define: Team

Filed under: Work — mikesdump @ 10:32 am

google define: Team

A team comprises any group of people
or animals linked in a common purpose. A group in itself does not
necessarily constitute a team.

I work with an excellent team of developers. But when I include Sales I
would classify this as a group. As a development team we have been
working to try and put on paper our vision/mission but I believe we
already share a common purpose. Some goals that the development team
shares: desire to develop high quality software, continuous self/team
improvement, and strive to provide excellent customer service to name a

Sales on the other hand have very different goals in my opinion. Their
task, a very difficult one, is to continue to find new customers in
order to keep the business going. I have been in commission sales and I
know the pain that if you don’t sell you don’t get paid. Perhaps there
are quotas that need to be met in order to keep your job. Even if sales
aren’t on commission it is in every business plan to continue to grow
and that challenge normally falls to the sales team.

If the sales team sells just what you have I think the two groups can
co-exist. But when new functionality is constantly sold with delivery
dates given before the development team gets a chance to review the
requirements there is no team. I have never heard from any developer,
anywhere, how great the sales team was. How they set realistic customer
expectations right from the start. An us versus them mentality
unfortunately is far too common.

Now it can easily be argued that my goals/mission are misaligned with
sales or perhaps even the company. Some days, after a self-evaluation,
I would even agree with that. But if all that was ever asked of
developers is to crank out code that was just good enough for today,
with no concern for maintainability or how the rest of the system would
be impacted, developers that care would be become frustrated. They
wouldn’t be able to improve their skills and ultimately would end up
providing poor customer service because these types of solutions are
generally pretty fragile. For the developers this pain would be
temporary because they would move on. In the long run the company would

So what is the happy ending? I think the only way for sales and
developers to become a team is to have a better understanding of each
other and have a common vision and mission. The vision will provide the
dream. It says this is where we want to go together. The mission
defines how we get there. It should define what should and shouldn’t be
done by both sides. It isn’t enough to produce a document that gets
hung on the wall, it has to be lived everyday and become part of the
culture. Sounds pretty simple don’t you think 🙂


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