Friday, July 03, 2009

Mårten Mickos on effective teams


I am reposting a great summary of team building, expecially for executives. By Mårten Mickos of MySQL.

1. The team members ask each other "How can I support you?"
2. The team members hold each other accountable while also allowing each one to show vulnerability.
3. The team practices open and authentic communication.
4. The team arrives at key decisions together through discussion, debate, and synthesis.
5. The team has fun.
6. The team members see success of the whole team as the best form of success.
7. The team operates at a strategic level and empowers the organization around them to make and execute operational decisions.
8. Each team member builds his/her own teams following these principles.

And there is an implicit characteristic number zero (which should be self-evident): 0. Each team member individually follows Drucker's eight practices for effective executives.

Some observations and further comments on the team practices:

Item 1: In a great executive team, all executives help each other, and they engage in the broad management of the business and not just in their own area of responsibility. This cannot happen if there is a team member with a supersized ego. So by defining this practice, we are also saying no thanks to people with egos too big to fit inside an effective team.

Item 2: There is a virtuous circle in all of this (and a vicious one in the opposite scenario): When each team member does his/her job, trust emerges between team members. When there is trust, you can admit and show your vulnerabilities and weaknesses. When you can admit your weaknesses, you are also bound to improve. When you improve, you do your job better. When you do your job better, more trust ensues.

Item 3: It could be added that this practice is both about communication inside the team and outside.

Item 4: How a team arrives at decisions is a very important issue. Note that it says "key decisions" -- non-key decisions can be made individually or at a lower level in the organization. Arriving at a decision "together" means that everyone will be heard, dissent will be encouraged, pros will be weighed against cons, and so on. But it does not mean that it is a democratic decision or a decision by consensus. At the end of any decision-making process in a corporation, there will be a single responsible decision-maker (many times, but not always, the CEO) who will have to make the final call. But during the process, he/she will engage the whole team and build up better insights, common understanding, and broad commitment, no matter what the ultimate decision will be. Many times in such an open decision-making process, new ideas emerge that shape the ultimate decision.

Item 5: Fun means genuine fun, not superficial fun. Fun doesn't require money, great surroundings, great food, or great wine. We have nothing against those things, but at the end of the day they are not vital for having fun. They only add luster to something that it is fun by itself. Fun happens when human beings interact on a plane deeper than what they are used to or what they expected.

Item 6: It takes a lot to get a team in a condition where overall success is more rewarding than success of any given individual. But when it happens, it is an amazing feeling for all involved (and for all who are observing from around), and it produces better results.

Item 7: Teams need to not micromanage the world around them, but to build layers of managers and teams that can run the show.

Item 8: Building a team is very difficult, but also incredibly rewarding.

My hope is that these practices can be useful to those who build executive teams. I have seen, participated in and built a number of executive teams in my career and I know firsthand the turbo boost a company gets from having an effective executive team. The one we built at MySQL was unique in this regard, if I may say so myself. I am very eager to hear comments and suggestions for improvements on this text. Please send them to

Despite Recession, online video is growing 40% in 2009

In Beet.TV interview, American eMarketer Senior Analysist David Hallerman, believes that online video is becoming a very important medium for advertising. He calls for longer content, thus there could be more ads.

“Overall, online video advertising will grow at a 40% clip this year and for the next few years, outpacing most other ad mediums, Hallerman said to Andy in the interview.

That increase would bring online video ad spending to $1.1 billion this year and $4.1 billion by 2013. Other estimates place total spending at a smaller amount: media agency Magna projects Web video will corral only $699 million this year and won’t reach $1 billion until 2011.

Despite the different projections, researchers agree that Web video will remain a rare bright spot and continue to outpace other mediums. But, the recession is still affecting Internet TV, and its growth this year is well below last year’s more than doubling of dollars, Hallerman pointed out”.

Well… in CityVice we wholly agree, thou the growth will also come from more focused short-form content. Relevancy is the key word.