Debugging Teams: Groundhog Day

#106 – September 12, 2022


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Have you ever been on a team that seemed to work very hard but never move forward? Where you look back quarter after quarter, or perhaps year after year, and you did a lot, but nothing actually seemed to happen? Congratulations, you’re in the middle of Groundhog Day.

A viable system continues to function in a changing environment. We want our companies—and some teams—to be sustainable this way. How does your team contribute? Does your team have all the components of a viable system… and should it?

Velocity metrics are as loathsome as the horoscope because neither provides any insight on why something went wrong or how to fix it. Moreover, if only you squint your eyes hard enough, both burndown charts and the horoscope will show you whatever you want to see.

Often when an organization is going through some turmoil, executives think to themselves, “Ah, I should have some one-on-ones with the team so they can hear how we’re handling this.”

Odds are you’ve heard the term “psychological safety” before and know it’s an important component of a functioning team. But what exactly is it? Why is it so important? What’s the relationship between psychological safety and organizational change? And most critical: What can teams try to boost low (or nonexistent) psychological safety?


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