Two Team Theory

I have a theory.

I believe that every person in an organisation is a member of two teams. These are your Primary and Secondary teams. I also believe that often when asked, if a human identifies both teams (I imagine most can) that they will incorrectly identify which their Primary and Secondary teams are.

The Theory

Every human in an organisation is a member of two teams, their Primary and Secondary teams. The Secondary team is determined by the individuals scope of influence and the Primary team is determined by the individuals peer group. Individuals should avoid, at all costs, making decisions that improve the Secondary team if it has a negative impact on the Primary.

So What?

I have found that often decisions are made within an individuals scope of influence that improve directly within that scope, often with no consideration for the wider impact on their peer group. This can happen throughout an organisation:

  • An IC (Individual Contributor), Primary team - the Engineering team they are part of, Secondary team - themselves.
  • A Team Lead, Primary team - the Engineering department, Secondary team - the Engineering team they are accountable for.
  • A Head of Engineering, Primary team - the company, Secondary team - the Engineering department.

It goes without saying that this will look different for everyone depending on the look and feel of their organisation. However, an IC should make decisions that offer the best result for the team, the team lead for the department, the HoE for the company, etc…

There are numerous topics that play a part in this including clear company goals and direction, alignment, culture; but rolling with this theory has given me a simple format for encouraging people to make better decisions for a wider context.