Self-Selecting Team

Japanese-American volunteers taking oath of induction.

I had applied for a job in a different part of the company. It was forward-looking work in a small team. The manager was happy to take me, but it wasn't until the team had interviewed me that I got the job.

... SizeTheOrganization revealed the need for a small, select team. How do you staff such a team?

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The worst team dynamics can be found in appointed teams.

There are no perfect criteria for screening team members. Yet broad interests (music and poetry for, example) seem to indicate successful team players. Teams staffed with such individuals are often willing to take extraordinary measures to meet project goals.

However, when such interests are ignored, or when team members are appointed, team dynamics can suffer, greatly diminishing the productivity of a team.


Create enthusiastic teams by letting people select their own teams. Do limited screening on the basis of track record and broader interests.

Such teams often, but not always, come about of their own volition. Sometimes, a PatronRole or other leader can seed the idea of such a team first as a rallying point for the formation of the team.

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A SoloVirtuoso or ApprenticeShip role may self-select a team. FormFollowsFunction can give such a team its structure. DiverseGroups can help in the screening process. Temporary SelfSelectingTeams can come together to work on ProgrammingEpisodes.

A SkunkWorks is a special kind of SelfSelectingTeam that comes together to share high risk on behalf of the organization.

Self-selection can and should happen at finer granularity than teams, too; see, for example, DeployAlongTheGrain.

This is different from "empowered teams." Research has shown that empowerment leads to communication locales that can become blindsided to the broader context of surrounding teams and can unnecessarily narrow the communication channels between teams, though it may increase it within teams [BibRef-Yates1995].

One danger to be aware of is that an exclusive group of friends may build a team from their own numbers, failing to take advantage of others' skills. The PatronRole can monitor these dynamics.