Monday, October 25, 2021

Team Profile

What makes a great team? One important factor is that you have a balanced set of skills and personalities in the team. A team which only consists of leaders won't get much work done. A team which only consists of workers will not work into the right direction. So how can you identify the right balance and combination of people?

One answer is the Team Member Profile Test. It's a set of questions which team members answer. They are evaluated to give a result indicating which type of team member the person is and where it lies in the spectrum of possible types.

There are two dimension which are considered there, how much team members are oriented towards tasks and how much they are oriented towards people. This can be visualized in a Results Chart.

Here is an example:

You can see five segments:

  • The center (5,5) is the "worker" who has a set of balanced of attributes, no extremes. These team members are extremely important because they tend to just get stuff done.
  • The top left (9,1) is the "expert" who is focused on the task and its details but doesn't consider people that much. You need these to get the depth of work which is necessary to create great results.
  • The bottom right (1,9) is the "facilitator" who is something like the soul of the team, focused on social interactions and supports the team in creating great results.
  • The top right (9,9) is the "leader" who is strong on task and people and is giving direction to the team. You need these but you don't want to have more than one or two in a team otherwise there are conflicts of leadership.
  • The bottom left (1,1) is the "submarine" who floats along and tries to stay invisible. Not strong on any account. You don't want these in your team.

The test can provide some insight into the balance of the team. You want to have all but the submarine covered with an emphasis on the workers.

How does your team look like on this diagram?

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Twenty-Five Years of KDE

It's KDE's birthday today. Twenty-five years ago Matthias Ettrich called for programmers to create a GUI for end users of Linux. They came and did. I wrote about the first Twenty Years of KDE five years ago. What I wrote there is still true, but there is more.

The table where KDE was founded

KDE started with tremendous ambition and momentum. Creating this unified graphical user interface, this integrated desktop for Linux, this vision drove hundreds and hundreds of amazing people to put together a massive amount of code, the desktop and tons of applications to cover all needs. And they succeeded, KDE's desktop represents the state of the art for many years now, on par with the best alternatives out there.

Over the years, with a growing community, the focus shifted. KDE was not only about this integrated desktop anymore, it turned into an umbrella for dedicated sub-communities working on specific parts and applications. The community got bigger and more diverse and created applications such as Kontact, Kate, Okular, Krita, GCompris or Kdenlive. All of them are at the top of their category.

KDE Plasma 5.22

I use KDE software for more than two decades now. I read my mail with KMail, I operate my shell with Konsole, I edit my texts with Kate, I manage my desktop with Plasma. It's special for software to stand this test of time. KDE's software is stable, it's durable, it's reliable, it's carefully adapted to deal with changes in its environment, so that it stays fresh and familiar at the same time. Some may remember the heat we got for breaking things with KDE 4.0. That was thirteen years ago. It has been much smoother sailing since then. So maybe this is what I learned to appreciate the most over the last years: KDE creates sustainable software.

The same is true for the community. The community always was KDE's finest features for me and, as I know, for many others as well. I met many very good friends there, and it's still great to also meet new people. People join, people leave, people stay around. It's a very healthy mix. KDE creates sustainable community.

Akademy 2021 group photo by Akademy Team (CC-BY)

There is a very strong feeling which keeps this together, the feeling of doing meaningful things together. It's an experience which is tremendously strong in KDE, but also in many other Free Software projects. Being free and empowered to do these changes you want to see in the software you use. Having people around you who support you, praise and criticise your work, and work with you on a shared purpose. This can be an incredibly strong source of motivation and satisfaction and happiness. It definitely has been for me.

Thanks, KDE, for a wonderful twenty-five years, and all the best for many more to come.

Team Profile

What makes a great team? One important factor is that you have a balanced set of skills and personalities in the team. A team which only con...