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Michelle Mannering
Michelle Mannering

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Drop the code for just a moment: what Animal Crossing can teach you about teamwork

Remember when I talked about DevOps being more than just coding? It's important to work together, to collaborate, and draw on the strengths of each individual in order to build the best products and services. Working within teams is important, however working with other teams is just as important. If you don't work as one organisation, one startup, one team, then your company, community, product, or service, won't go in the direction it needs to.


I recently gave a talk at Deserted Island DevOps and I had to start playing Animal Crossing so I could give my talk. I love this piece of dialogue from the start of the game.

Animal Crossing teamwork

If you haven't played Animal Crossing: New Horizon, it's a game where you have a blank slate to build an island purely of your own desire. But in order to start, you need to work together with the other inhabitants of the island. I thought this was such a cute way to showcase teamwork.

This kind of collaboration is important when it comes to building products, communities, and services. For example, of us on the Animal Crossing island has different skills. We must work together in our little team to kickstart the island. But we can't thrive as an island unless we work with people outside our island. There are some resources our island doesn't have and we can complete quests much quicker if we work with other islands.

Interdisciplinary teamwork

It's this kind of teamwork that is shown in Animal Crossing: New Horizon that is a must to be progress in our current landscape. Whilst we might be able to be progress if we stay on our island and only work with our 'team', it's much slower.

As soon as I travelled to other islands and talked to other users, I was able to gain more resources, more items, and fast track my missions. We call this type of teamwork interdisciplinary engagement. And it's a must if you want to be successful.

Interdisciplinary teamwork means we work across different teams, and work together to achieve our goals. For example, imagine if we had a company with four teams:


For the purpose of the example, let's assume we have the following teams:

  • Engineering
  • Marketing
  • Community
  • Management

If theses teams aren't working together, then goals aren't aligned. Developers will be building whatever they feel like, the marketing team will be selling something that is not what the developers are building. The community team will be getting suggestions from the community and not feeding those back, and the management team are pulling their hair out because everything is in disarray.

On the other hand, if all these teams are working in synch, then goals will be met, and products and services will be built in more timely manner.

Using technology for better collaboration

It's understand that many teams can often struggle to work effectively together. That's why in our current times, we have lots of really cool tech that can help us collaborate better. Things like GitHub, Slack, Discord, (yes Animal Crossing), project boards, shared calendars etc. all help us work well together. Working in synch doesn't also mean working at exactly the same time.


Many of us work across timezones and with various schedules. Working synchronously here means working with the same goals in mind. So as long you are unified in your mission you can absolutely work asynchronously in terms of time. Technology also goes a long way to helping that cause too.

So the next time you are working on your next project, or with your next team, think about if you are working in a unified way. Use the technology available to you, collaborate together, and together you can build a better world!

Top comments (1)

charlottesophie profile image
Charlotte Schmitt

Cross-functional alignment is so crucial and should be started right from the beginning, even when teams are still very small. Love the nostalgic animal crossing analogy :)