Team of Teams1 is the approach to Product Development at scale that Barry Hawkins has evolved since the mid 2000s. It has a deliberate bias towards lightweight, minimalist structure, with sufficient flexibility to be applied in a range of organizational settings.
There are numerous benefits to applying Team of Teams to scale your Product Development efforts, but chief among those are the following three outcomes:
Optimize for Throughput of Product Outcomes
At the end of the day, teams and organizations exist to deliver outcomes that further the growth and adoption of the products or services they offer to their customers. Team of Teams serves to group the work of related teams such that moving ideas from concept to live is more direct.
Simplify Driving Stakeholder Alignment
A key impediment to Product Development is lack of alignment among stakeholders. This contention complicates prioritization and trade-off discussions. Team of Teams organizes work in ways that allow stakeholders to more clearly see what outcomes conflict with one another, and conveys the proposed value and corresponding level of effort for each outcome.
Reduce Communication Overhead
In any product organization of notable size, communication overhead is a key impediment to the speed of collaboration. Team of Teams groups teams and appoints cross-functional leadership such that communicating across a large, cross-functional organization can be streamlined.
Connect Executive Priority to Delivery
As organizations scale, there is a tendency to expand team-level surface area well beyond the current approach to aligning executive priority and direction with team-level execution.
Make Deliberate Large Tradeoffs
One of the clearest signs that an agile scaling approach is effective is that you'll see tradeoffs being made explicitly at the organizational level.
One of an organization's first questions when getting started with Team of Teams is "Which teams should we group together?" The key considerations are Size, Domain Affinity, Stakeholder Overlap, and Team Interdependence. Read More...
Just as we have cross-functional team members at the team level, so is the leadership of a Team of Teams meant to be cross-functional, with each discipline present in the teams has a discipline leader representing that craft. Read More...
Team of Teams has a core set of artifacts that are used in its recurring cycle of events. These are the Portfolio Backlog and the Portfolio Roadmap. Read More...
Team of Teams operates primarily via a cycle of recurring events at the biweekly, monthly, and quarterly levels. These events are the Biweekly Sync, the Monthly Stakeholder Review, and the Quarterly Review. Read More...
Team of Teams and Product Development Lifecycle (PDLC)
Team of Teams is designed with the intent of integrating with a variety of Product Development Lifecycle (PDLC) approaches. Read More...
The full name for this concept is Hawkins Team of Teams to differentiate it from other concepts that use the term "team of teams." One notable example is General Stanley McChrystal's book "Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World", published in 2015. Barry Hawkins began calling his system Team of Teams in 2012 after constant pressure from clients and colleagues to give a name to the system of delivery he had evolved. ↩