Teams. And stuff

TLDR : A few notes on what I think make good teams

5 min readDec 10, 2023

So, I was asked to write what I think make checks notes “a blog on team collaboration, discipline and highly efficient teams”. Here goes nothing

This is just a fuckin hilarious image. I couldn’t resist. C’est la vie.
Team Shrek

The paradox of teams

Long story short, making a team is hard. Making a team that actually accomplishes anything without people wanting to hunger games each other into a pit of fire is even harder. So why ?

Well, as always, the answer really does boil down to humans, but as always, it’s a little more complex than simply that.

Teams, especially teams in pursuit of a goal, have a paradox. If teams only consisted of emotionless people who worked in sync 24/7, they’d probably never argue or let ego or emotion get in the way of the goal. Provided someone else doesn’t pay better. Or has more interesting stuff.

But, given that you would like a team to stick together, you’d prefer not having to shuffle in people in and out (given the aforementioned reasons of money and more interesting stuff). There’s overhead time, and too much overhead is bad for any goal. So you need to have emotions on a team, especially of belonging and happiness.

And therein lies the paradox. To be or not to be a being of emotion. One gets stuff done. The other makes sure teams stick, so they can get done.

There’s an underlying assumption made here, which is that the team needs to be made. If you don’t need a team, then the former is a good way of looking at it. Get people who get stuff done, get stuff done, move on.

The latter only kicks in when you want longer lasting teams, say for a time you need someone in your corner.

For when winter comes, the lone wolf dies, but the pack survives.

How do you build one ?

Good teams have a few things in common.

  1. Similar way to solve problems
  2. Open communication
  3. Compromise
  4. Demarcation

Let’s expand on these.

Similar way to solve problems

Lemme put it this way. If you get into a disagreement with a person, and you solve problems by shouting at people, and he solves problems by unsheathing his katana, it’s gonna be a bad team.

There have to be agreed upon methods to solve problems, and the golden sacred rule is thus : Don’t question the method of solving the problem. You talk it out, you talk it out. You argue, you argue. You have katana duels, upto you (although I doubt the efficacy of a system with a 50% mortality rate in dispute resolution)

Open Communication

You are a black box. The world gives you something, you compute something, and spit it out. Everyone is a black box. And especially the other person.

So keep other people aware of your computations. Otherwise, when it comes time to compare results, pain in the ass doesn’t cover it.

If you want to understand this in practice, you and a friend take a bike each and go on a road trip without the either of you discussing it.

You end up in Europe, he’s chilling in Singapore. Great trip, but you’re not a team.


You got how to solve problems. Great. Now what happens when someone after the problem is solved ? Some decisions are either 1 or 0*, and someone has to lose. And the thing is, nobody likes licking their wounds in front of anyone else (especially a team, since people have long memories). And the human ego beith the worst enemy of humanity, after stupidity.

The moral here is simple. Let it go. Once a decision is made, it’s done. In no small words, get the fuck over it. and move on. Shit happens.

  • In fact all decisions are, but the illusion of compromise is because in complex problems, there’s a configuration of 1’s and 0’s of the individual binary decisions that allows the sense of compromise for both parties.


This is a combination of communication and compromise, but needs its own category.

Good teamwork requires proper demarcation of terroritory, especially on collaborative things. It’s hard to describe, but basically it goes like this : You take care of this, I take care of this. We meet up, compare notes, and adjust.

When you’re working on a ship, you don’t argue with the lookout if he saw an iceberg. You shouldn’t have two lookouts arguing about if it is technically an iceberg. You verify, and if you can’t, trust him.

Great. Now you have a team that communicates well, doesn’t have an ego, resolves problems on the same page, and demarcates their stuff.

What next ?


Now that the processes are set up, assume that these are lines between multiple black boxes.

Increasing efficiency has 2 steps

  1. Increase throughput : This goes both ways. Can’t send a million messages if the other person only reads 3.
  2. Reduce Noise : A million messages saying “Hi” is worse than none.

These two are relatively simple, but very time consuming to get right, since it takes time to build rapport and trust. To be honest, this is more of an art than a science.

In a team, communication generally takes the form of certain protocols, and there are certain decided upon actions that every team member must undergo to form an underlying base upon which further guarantees of higher level processes must be made.

Basically, everyone agrees to do stuff this way, so that a rhythmic predicatability is formed upon which further decisions are made.

And this brings us to our last….thing/point/value/<insert something here>.


Good teams are disciplined. You create a rhythm (or a cadence, to quote an old person I know), you stick to it.

That’s it. Really. Short and sweet, init ?

Notes : One note I want to mention is thusly. Emotions on a team are sinusoidal. You cannot have strong “good” emotions without having similar strong “bad” emotions at some point. The wave balances out.

So you have 2 choices. The easier one is reduce the overall level of emotion (risking team breaking apart), or the more difficult one is having an outlet for the downward wave. I don’t know what, but gimme some time. I’ll figure it out.

Sin wave of life. Sucks, but hey, that’s life.




I do stuff. Like stuff about code. And book stuff. And gaming stuff. And stuff about life. And stuff about stuff.