"I have a mind like a steel... uh... thingy." Patrick Logan's weblog.

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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Whole Team

I am going to bring together two of my loves: baseball and software. Why? Because the College World Series is over, and I am suffering withdrawal. Also because the OSU Beavers won the CWS for the second straight year not because they had any particularly premier individuals, but because they *practice* "whole team".

When you play "small ball" you have to play as a team. OSU often scores runs with two outs, and the just as often prevent other teams from scoring with two outs, and prevent teams from scoring as many as they expect with runners on base with less than two outs. OSU also gets results from up and down the lineup and all around the field. They win on team fundamentals: their luck is too good and consistent to be attributed to luck. Their confidence that flows from their solid *team* fundamentals simply destroys their adversaries from within.

I wish I could draw some fantastic analogy between "small ball" and software development. The best I can do right now is that software development also depends on the whole team *practicing* together the team fundamentals.

...judging by crowd reaction and amount of orange worn in the stands, Oregon State seems the local favorite.

"They play small ball, and they do all the little things right - that's why," said 25-year-old Blake Armanees of Kansas City, Mo. "I didn't go to Oregon State or anything thing like that. But I've watched them for the past few years, and they've been dead-set on doing the little things right." (www.cstv.com)

Part of OSU's success is also keeping the end in mind: knowing where you need to head as a team and dedicating yourselves to getting there. After OSU won their super-regional match...
The Beavers didn't greet the end of the game - on a double play - with the euphoria of a big pile at midfield. They merely walked through their own handshake line, then one with Michigan, and disappeared in the locker room.

"We figure," Canham said. "you only get one dogpile a year. We're not going to waste it until the big one." (Photos below.)

"Whole Team" is an agile software development practice that is given short shrift. Practicing test-driven design is a snap compared to practicing "whole team". The main reason is we don't understand what it means, and so there is little hope of practicing it. The following phrase from "Getting to Whole Team" captures "whole team" better than any other I can recall...
On a good team, a business problem feels like everybody's problem, and a technical problem feels like everybody's problem. Regardless of my individual problems, I can rely on the whole team to help me solve them.
That article concludes...
In the software world, without a Whole Team, we really don't have anything. We're dead on square one. We should treat the creation of a Whole Team as vital and primary. We should get out of the habit of talking abstractly about the nature of a Whole Team, and talk and think about it more concretely, in terms of the practices that produce it, and in terms of how we can measure its quality in the reactivity and equanimity of individuals and groups of programmers and customers.

OSU Dog Pile 2006...

OSU Dog Pile 2007...

Several team members new this year said a signature event that sealed their decision to join the OSU team was seeing the 2006 team's dog pile. And they all noted that during their regular-season slump, they never lost sight of that vision even while those outside the team gave up hope of the team even getting into the 2007 post-season at all. This year's repeat champion is the only team with a losing conference record to win a national championship. They were the last team selected to participate in the post-season. Stumbling along the way may be *good* for your team!

Even after a string of losing seven of nine Pac-10 games late in the regular season, the Beavers maintained a family atmosphere, providing support for one another.

“Everybody doubted us, but we didn’t doubt ourselves,” shortstop Darwin Barney says. “I hope teams in the future can learn from this, that it takes belief to make it happen. This club really showed that.”...

When Oregon State fell behind in the first inning of Sunday’s North Carolina game, it was the first time the Beavers trailed since the second inning at Virginia on June 5. The deficit Sunday lasted for a half-inning, meaning the Beavers were behind for a half-inning over the last 70 they played in the postseason. (portland tribune)

And...
Asked to explain their postseason success after a 10-14 Pac-10 season that left them in sixth place and barely eking out an at-large berth to the NCAA playoffs, both Ogata and Barney pointed to their team’s ability to focus and stay calm.

“We really felt like we were home there, on the field and in the dugout,” said Barney, one of only two returning starters among OSU’s position players on the 2006 World Series championship team. “There was an amazing calmness on our team and throughout our dugout.”

“It was our mindset, that special feeling — we were just going to go and win,” Ogata said. “The guys on this team are people you want to go to war with. You just knew people were going to come through.”

1 comment:

fumanchu said...

"In the software world, without a Whole Team, we really don't have anything. We're dead on square one. We should treat the creation of a Whole Team as vital and primary."

Fine.

"We should get out of the habit of talking abstractly about the nature of a Whole Team, and talk and think about it more concretely,"

OK...

"in terms of the practices that produce it, and in terms of how we can measure its quality in the reactivity and equanimity of individuals and groups of programmers and customers."

Oog. He lost me there. You can't *manage* a team into existence, you can only *inspire* one into existence. That has little to do with measurement, and especially not of "reactivity and equanimity"--those vary based on the mission and environment of the team.

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Portland, Oregon, United States
I'm usually writing from my favorite location on the planet, the pacific northwest of the u.s. I write for myself only and unless otherwise specified my posts here should not be taken as representing an official position of my employer. Contact me at my gee mail account, username patrickdlogan.