Or: How to understand and make changes in a team’s culture
I can’t seem to find a definitive reference the original experimentation but I heard this in my management studies at university. I think of it every now and again and can see the impact of the 5 monkeys everywhere I go.
The experiment involved placing 5 monkeys in a large cage. A few bananas were hung from the ceiling well out of reach of the monkeys, but some boxes (or a ladder in some stories) were placed below the bananas allowing the monkeys to climb up to retrieve the bananas.
As the first monkey headed up the boxes and got within a grab of the bananas he was sprayed with a high pressure hose with cold water. As the monkey scrambled to get out of the road of the hose and cold water, the other monkeys (who had done nothing), were also sprayed.
As a technical team leader, your time is spread across a number of projects and a number of issues. You will have a plethora of different forces pulling and pushing at your time, so much so that you are putting in more hours than is healthy, just trying to get some work done.
With those external pulls and pushes, you can often find that you can look back and find no useful forward motion in your work. It is these times that you will need to re-ground yourself. One way to do this is by asking the question: “What is my focus?”. This one question allows you to re-establish where it would be best to spend your time and know your priorities.
It would be easy to say “the team”, but the answer is not as easy; you could also say “assigning resources” and while that is a large part of your work, it may not be your focus. Ask yourself what is the core focus or single reason for each of the team members. For example, a Developer produces code. Yes, the developer also considers requirements; code reuse; standards; UI and all the other areas, but his/her core focus would be to produce code.