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Codermetrics by Jonathan Alexander

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Timeout for an Example: Two All-Nighters

I admit I am not a big fan of team-building exercises. I like to relax with teammates and do things outside work like going out to lunch, a movie, or a ballgamebut I’m not a fan of “staged” outings where teams work together on artificial projects designed to improve teamwork. There are a variety of ideas and techniques that some organizations use for team-building, from wall-climbing to paintball to making videos. These can be fun, and they may allow teammates to get to know each other better. But in terms of actually improving teamwork or forging closer ties that contribute to long-term sustainable improvement, I am doubtful that such events have any real success.

What I believe does has an effect is when a team goes through difficult and challenging situations together and achieves hard-won accomplishments. While staged events might try to emulate such conditions to create similar effects, there is nothing like the real thing.

One team I worked with at a start-up was a good example. Our product was an on-premise enterprise solution. We spent nine months making major changes to the first release of our product to deliver a much more advanced second release. Those nine months were difficult. We wanted to deliver the second release in six months, but given everything the release included, this turned out to be impossible. Everyone pushed and pushed over that nine months, often working nights or weekends. In the end, we made plans with the entire ...

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