Sep 22, 2023

Nudging and Budging

#teams #engineering

A good team is made up of people who push each other to Be Betterβ„’. I call this interaction nudging. When people gently remind each other not to handle that extra edge case or to show up on time or model good behavior, they are nudging each other to make things better. This is an important dynamic for teams to outperform themselves over time.

There's another dynamic that also matters: how a nudge is received. I call this side of the interaction budging, and think it's equally important. People who can give up control to empower others are budging to make space for others. Teams, especially teams with strong players, often have strong opinions. This is good, and is correlated with experience. But strong opinions are often tightly coupled to personal egos, so it's a rare sight to see those opinions give way to something else. This dynamic disrupts the status quo and prevents stagnation. It's similar to how breaking up monopolistic rule can spur innovation. Allowing others to "win" disagreements when it doesn't matter is a healthy and efficient way to improve team health.

I think good teams are made of motivated people who are good at what they do. But great teams are made of the same people who can both lead and follow.

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