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Saheed Oladosu
Saheed Oladosu

Posted on • Originally published at Medium

Reasons Why Teams Fail

Let's get one of the big questions out of the way. Why are teams failing? Why do teams fail? Here are some reasons.

Misalignment of Vision

I think one of the biggest is that there's a misalignment of vision. For example, you might have worked on a team where your customer or the people outside of the team had an idea of what your team was going to produce. They might have thought, we hope for an awesome product delivered in nine months. Okay, I like the “nine months”, I don't like the “hope”, and I don't like the “awesome”.

How do you define awesome? What is an awesome product? As a team member you know that you want more than awesome, you want specifications. Regarding hope, I'm not saying that the managers or leaders can't be hopeful, but that should not be part of the statement of work.

On the one side, you have your managers or your customers who are hoping for something that isn't very well defined. On the other side, your vision will become much more clarified within the team.

Before the team starts doing stuff they have to figure out what they're working towards. What are the specifications of an awesome product? The problem with this is that even though you've defined what the awesome product is it might be completely misaligned with what your customers think an awesome product is. Aligning your vision is a critical part of team success.

Miscommunication of Expectations

Another reason why teams might fail is a miscommunication of expectations. Let's say there are various people involved in this project, whether they're on the team or they're customers of the team;

• We might identify some as the outside boss: this is the person who commissions the project,
• The team leader who is obviously on the team,
• Team members, and
• Then you have your customers.

You're not always going to have these four things. Maybe your outside boss is your customer, so you have these four types of people and they might have communications between them.

What are the expectations of each type of person? Well, the outside boss might be thinking, I just want the bare bones to get to market. I want a minimum viable product.

The team leader who's trying to do a good job at spiking the project might say; “oh, well we need to do A and B”. But the team members somehow understand that they need to do B and C.

Whether that's because the requirements weren't communicated very well or as a team, they decided that;

• A wasn't useful,
• B is useful, and
• Hey, while we're at it let's do C.

Because that would be pretty cool. Now we have three different expectations of what the result of this team would be.

Let's throw the customers in. They're not necessarily after a minimum viable product. They might not know about or want A and B or B and C, they really want something that might be completely out of reach like unicorn hair or something that's unreasonable.
I'm not saying that customers are always asking for unreasonable things; I just wanted to illustrate the idea of how different expectations can cause the failure of a team.

Disrespect amongst Groups

Of course, there are other reasons why teams might fail. If there's disrespect amongst any of those groups from the last slide, even amongst team participants, that can cause a team to completely collapse.

In a team environment, you'll have plenty of opportunities where people make mistakes and you'll need to forgive them. If your team harbors bad feelings and can't move on and forgive other people, that can cause a team to fail.

If there's poor leadership or management of the team, it might be impossible to succeed. Egos can get in the way of team success and if you have tasks that are simply impossible to accomplish or you're asked to do things without having the right resources your team is on the road to failure.

I'm not saying that any of these will surely cause team failure, but they sure make it harder for a team to succeed.

Thanks for reading.

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