Friday, May 12, 2017

The Alchemy of Teamwork

Thinking about teamwork and the ideal specifications for teams has turned to be my curiosity for a while now. I've always been part of various teams (at school, basketball teams, at work, ...) and you always feel some differences between teams and how they deliver results but I had never had a chance to delve into the subject in detail and try and analyze it.

The fact that something happens between the members of the team that makes them become a new whole, the synergy effect, is absolutely interesting. The magic in teams with normal players that lets them deliver much more than teams with stars has always been a beautiful phenomena for me.

Learning about the mysteries of teams and teamwork will have actual practical benefits these days too since our game development activities are all heavily team based and have got various challenges which require highly functioning and productive teams to tackle them. The fact that great products are made by great teams is extremely true for game development.

Looking at our past experiences, I can easily see when we were a good team and the types of results we've got. This is something that can be felt intuitively but my concern these days is to try and find out some details about what was exactly working in those teams and what wasn't at other times.

My aim is to write and summarize the various things that I study or think about in a few blog posts, hoping to integrate them in the near future and wishing to uncover part of the teamwork mysteries.

One very interesting book that I had read close to ten years ago was Herding Cats by Hank Rainwater. I read it when we were working on software development and this is a book about programming teams and how there are various personality types among programmers and how tough it is to manage them, therefore herding cats. I would get reminded about the paragraphs in the book when engaged in daily work with our team members, never knowing how it would all get insanely more challenging when we start game development. If programmers are varied and tough to deal with, adding artists and game designers to your pack will instantly make everything in that book seem like a very introductory tutorial to the chaos of dealing with the extremely different type of people gathered in one place called a game development studio.

My journey to explore the land of team mysteries has led me to reading quite a few books, various articles, thinking and talking to many people and most recently a plan to do some actual computer simulation about teams.

I will be writing about all of the above in the coming posts.


Ashkan said...

Do you happen to need/be interested in additional hands for the simulation? Seems interesting. I was talking to a friend yesterday who read a book called game theory in humanities recently and we discussed simulating a society in a program :) How small the world is. We wanted to code the value of democracy in a society assuming everyone would be interested in doing less and getting more so it was a different kind of subject since here we are interested to simulate different situations to find one which people are interested to do more and don't think of the eventual gains too much and forget the personal part of it :) Monte Carlo simulations come to mind for changing attributes of people and simulating over and over :)

Amir H. Fassihi said...

Yeah being able to simulate matters related to how people behave is always fascinating. Thanks for the suggestion, I will be in touch in case I could use more help.