Principle Five: Create a culture for speed

  • Cultivating trusted relationships to bring the team together and to get through tough times
  • Creating clarity to avoid wasted time and confusion
  • Leading without overpowering the team
  • Collaborating and breaking down siloes
  • Having fun!

Cultivating relationships

  • Be proactive: When establishing new relationships find a common ground or a mutually beneficial agreement that can be used to initiate the relationship and help build a bond. This shouldn’t be done in a creepy way and if you’re trying to build a relationship with someone, but they aren’t taking an interest, that’s OK — don’t take it personally. Try something, pivot if required, but depending on the situation, don’t be afraid to pull back and try someone else.
  • Build trust: Be transparent, be honest, be candid, do what you say and say what you believe (coincidently, some of Zone’s company values). In my experience, trust is the number one thing that will make or break a relationship. It doesn’t matter if that’s trust with a teammate, trust with a client, trust with a leader, trust with a partner… Trust is always key.
  • Be kind: We need to understand other people’s feelings and what stress and pressure they are under to truly know how to support them. Be respectful of others, and be inclusive, treating everyone fairly. Be honest and candid, honesty needs to be delivered with empathy which is also a key part of creating a human connection.
  • Be personable: Actively sharing stories about your family, hobbies or adventures outside of work will lead others to also share and create a deeper, longer lasting connection. Work can be intense and it’s easy to forget that people have lives outside of work. Where appropriate, stepping outside of the constant work chat to understanding the person behind the job title can often help build great relationships.
  • Give value without asking for the same in return: This is particularly important when individuals don’t work together directly, or they have no formal structure for their relationship. The value exchange might be providing advice/consultation, actively supporting the other’s work/personal ambition or just the act of discourse/discussion to formulate and refine one’s views on topics or problems.

Creating clarity

  • Communication: Whether that’s playback sessions, daily stand-ups, feature refinement discussions… whatever… the result needs to be a clear and aligned understanding/agreement between the communicator and the audience. Creating clarity in communication is probably a whole blog article in itself, but here are a few tips; communications need to be concise, confident, timely and the information should be delivered in a kind and relevant way for the specific audience (don’t confuse them with jargon).
  • Responsibilities: Creating a simple RACI and getting everyone to agree to it can fix this… It’s that simple. Some people seem to fear clearly setting out roles and responsibilities on projects or accounts, that might be because they want everyone to be responsible and not have siloed working. However, in my experience, not having clarity on who should be doing what has caused a lot of wasted time and effort.
  • Goals: A team needs to know what it’s pulling towards to make decisions quickly and move at pace. This includes long term goals, smaller iterations, weekly goals, and even daily goals (discussed in continuously managing scope). Setting goals as a team helps the team hold each other accountable. This doesn’t mean blasting someone for not completing their work but means that individuals will work hard to support each other and align to a commonly agreed target.

Leading without overpowering

Have the hard conversations

Get out of the way

Maintain an eye on the future

Collaborating to break down silos

Having fun


  • Cultivate trusted relationships to bring the team together and to get through tough times
  • Create clarity to avoid wasted time on confusion
  • Lead without overpowering the team to find the best solutions and help the team own their delivery
  • Collaborate and break down siloes to move at speed
  • Have fun!

Blog series final words…




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