Stride CEO Debbie Madden talks at QCon New York 2017

QCon New York 2017 kicked off yesterday! Matt Sakaguchi, Site Reliability Manager at Google kicked the conference off with a stellar keynote about how Google builds effective teams.

Following the keynote, Stride’s CEO, Debbie Madden, gave a talk on The Top 5 Secrets to Improving Team Communication.

In her talk, Madden shares the top 5 things she’s seen the highest performing teams do to set themselves up for success.

As Sakaguchi and Google know, building effective teams is a true competitive advantage when done well.

Debbie recently sat down with the team at QCon for an interview to discuss what sparked the motivation for her presentation, and to summarize key takeaways. Here are highlights of what they discussed.

QCon: What's the motivation for your talk?

Debbie: I see tech teams struggle, I see teams fail, and then I also see teams succeed. Success is not about having the best idea. It’s the best teams and best execution that win. The best execution comes from trust and teamwork. Early in my career I thought this was all fluff and b.s. The longer I've been here the more I realize that the true secret to succeeding is working with a team of people that actually care about each other, actually trust each other. In my talk I share practices for both enterprise and startup teams that really have made a big difference in team productivity.

This talk is not going to teach you how to refactor or how to test drive your code. It's going to teach you how to get stuff done as a team by making faster more productive decisions outside the code so that you can write better code. If you can really condition your team communication, you will improve productivity.

QCon: What do you want someone who comes to your talk to leave with?

Debbie: My talk takes you through a five step plan for people to take back to their team. You’ll learn how to increase the efficiency of your team These are not six months projects, they are as simple as changing your meeting rhythms, changing roles on a team.

The first and most important step is recognizing whether your team is in a period of calm or chaos. This is a concept that's forty years old. It's based on the Greiner curve. Once you know what phase you are in, you can take the right steps to improve.

Most teams fail because they don't realize that they are in a period of chaos. If you can make it past those periods of chaos that's when you make those big leaps toward success.

QCon: What is the one piece of advice that's a tool, a practice, or a technique that you would recommend?

Debbie: You can pick a technology or practice like TDD or mob programming. But I just don't think that's the most important thing. More important is focusing on the foundation of trust, making sure that you have a team that you can actually trust. And it’s important to understand that trust has 2 parts: Do you trust that your co-workers are capable of doing the job they are hired for? And do you trust that they want to do the job they were hired for?

Be sure to download our resource on how to improve team communication at your organization in 5 easy steps.