Unity Of Purpose


...the team is beginning to come together. Team members may come from different backgrounds and may bring many different experiences.
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Many projects have rocky beginnings as people struggle to work together.

Often, the people have different ideas about what the final product should be. In fact, the final product may well be a pretty fuzzy concept. Yet the people must have a consistent view of the product if there is any hope of it getting done.

Each person is different and has different views and opinions. They come with different backgrounds and experiences. They must learn to work together.

It is important to get off to a good start — initial impressions, good or bad, tend to be lasting.


The leader of the project must instill a common vision and purpose in all the members of the team. This "leader" can be a manager, or the PatronRole, or a customer advocate, but should be someone who holds the team's respect and who has influence over the team's thinking. This is an overt action; you can't count on it happening automatically. The leader should make sure everyone agrees on the following: What is the product supposed to do? Who are the customers, and how will it help them? What is the schedule, and everyone must feel personally committed to the schedule. Who is the competition?

An important component of this action is to identify strengths of the team, and use them as rallying points as well. This is related to identifying the challenges and competition, and uniting to overcome and surpass them.

As time goes on, the UnityOfPurpose continues to emerge from ongoing dialogue within the team and with customers and other stakeholders. While the team leader primes the pump, team dynamics take over and keep things going.

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The obvious result is that the team is on the same page, and is working together, rather than at cross purposes. But a more subtle, but probably more powerful effect is what it does for the morale of the team. The best teams tend to feel that they are somehow better than others — and they work to prove it!

This pattern relates to some deep-seated principles and values of organizational health. There may be no more important single property of an organization than that its members have a shared vision they are motivated to achieve. Communication — which receives the bulk of the attention in this book--is just a means to achieving that shared vision. UnityOfPurpose is a deeper principle even than effective communication; communications are just a means to UnityOfPurpose.

Related Patterns:

SharedClearVision ([BibRef-Bramble2002], p. 80) notes the importance of a clear vision in creating unity, from the point of view of writing use cases. SelfSelectingTeam outlines how a team should come together, but that alone is insufficient to achieve UnityOfPurpose. LockEmUpTogether helps achieve unity, particularly of architecture. A GateKeeper can help. It can help the team be more unified on what requirements to EngageCustomers. This pattern sets up CompensateSuccess: it's much easier to compensate success when everyone knows what success means. And while UnityOfPurpose is important to galvanize the team, effective team dynamics can come only if every team member is also valued as an individual: HolisticDiversity comes to play here.