Expecting me to blabber away on how important teamwork is in and beyond software development? There are way more intelligent people to judge, but here is some real-life everyday struggle you can pick up an easy formula for when to choose teams versus when to deploy individuals.

Thinking that great things are only ever achieved by a collective body of well aware, constantly inter-exchanging individuals within or around the mass best identified as chalky substance in enterprise grade behemoths? The simple truth is that it might, …, or not! It’s a total conundrum so let’s reason it out and see what that all has to do with teamwork!

At the outset, talking about teamwork in the context of a project, you must ask yourself one very simple question and I am still amazed by how simple it actually is and wish to have known this a long time ago! Before exploring it any further I however feel the need to share my journey to this conclusion and it was in fact, bot metaphorically and physically, a long and chaotic journey to get there.

I recently had to travel to Lagos, doing some reconnaissance on a business opportunity introduced by a German client who happened to be afraid of Ebola, which, at the time, made it to the news much as the Corona virus does now. Obviously, Ebola is a dead serious thing but, if push came to shove and in the absence of Ebola, I am sure he would have found other excuses for not going there.

Getting to Lagos from Central Europe is a mess. It’s probably no more than 8 hours direct flight from Vienna but I went around Christmas time and got routed via Addis Ababa in Ethiopia, which then makes up for a total of 16 hours flying time. To make things worse, my flight home got delayed so I had to spend quite some time at Lagos International and there it was, that fortune cookie wisdom, written on a billboard that would feature a banner rotation consisting of 2 totally useless ads, presenting local banks, and that brilliant sentence (I wouldn’t even know who’s ad it was to be quite honest).

If you wanna go fast, go alone! If you wanna go far, go together!

African proverb

Working with a dedicated team of professionals / high achievers is fun, productive, augmenting one’s individual ability to solve problems and many more positive things I could write on for hours. However, there are many downsides too. Not all individuals are the same, thus they need to be rewarded / dealt with independently. You need dedicated managers, project scopes, responsibilities, due dates, creativity, micromanagement, team building, reward systems and a myriad of other things to make ends meet.

Thus, ask yourself carefully, how far away is that goal and how many will I need to get there? Pay attention to the detail, add resources when there is the time. If you are happy prototyping in your one-room shack next to canned food and empty coke bottles, feel free to do so but don’t miss the point where others are needed to scale your unicorn!

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