What makes a project succeed? Well, the list is long, so I won’t even try. I have seen failures and successes decided on team work.
Why would a person contribute to the team success, or not? Apart from the “survivalist” who cares about his job, there are others that excel or remain average. Those who excel are the ones who care about the project and their team members. Manager Tools‘ Mark Horstman’s rule #1: It’s all about people (the rest are here).
If we rule out the survivalists, we’re talking about people who are not in danger. Even if they are not motivated, they can still move forward, slowly. But we don’t want that. We want real success.
So if the layoff whip is not used, then what? Unless they are sociopaths, they do care about their teammates. And this is where peer pressure comes in. If they feel they are letting the team down, they will pull through.
So the 64K dollar question is how to get people to commit, or care? Make them take ownership on what they do, and be responsible, not only to the organization, but also their peers.
Two of the things we’re introducing are the iteration planning session and a demo. The planning session is when the team commits their actions for the iterations (not just for the boss, also for the team). A demo is where the team presents working features (including a whole ceremony). A part of showing successes, this proof of commitment they made in the beginning of iteration, not helps them take pride in their success, but increases the peer pressure for team success.