What makes a good team the best team? My four key beliefs.

In order to succeed shaping the future of mobility, we not just need the best people, we also need the best team(s). I have been working in and with various teams at Daimler and adidas throughout my career and always kept asking myself the question: What characterizes best teams? What are the must-haves?

Recently, our entire Daimler IT senior management came to Amsterdam for our annual meeting. A great chance for all of us to catch up, discuss our strategy and define how we are going to navigate what lies ahead of us. And also a great chance for me to put some more thoughts on the question: what is most important for us to have as a team. Today, I’d like to give you an impression on what I came up with. And I am even more curious about your thoughts.

1. Be able to change and adapt quickly

To create the best products and quickly adapt to new challenges, I strongly believe using agile approaches wherever it makes sense is key. In general, we experience that also the big projects we run agile perform healthier than our traditional waterfall projects.

By engaging customers continuously and launching products in a constant manner we make sure that we meet fast changing needs. At the same time truly agile approaches require a lot of discipline, not just in planning roles and meetings but also in working in a test-first manner and tackling tough issues right when they occur.

2. Work on ambitious goals

But let’s take a look at the bigger picture. While implementing agile approaches to get somewhere first, somewhere bigger, it is essential to know where we are heading to. This brings me to my second thought: Having a “why”, a north star for everything we do, is one of the prerequisites in defining the right paths, technologies and methodologies.

So, to possibly make the right choice either in our personal lives or at work, it is always easier to know what we want to achieve. Having a clear understanding of why we are doing things instills passion and also inspires others to achieve great work.

For us, four letters, one word CASE, which stands for Connected, Autonomous, Shared and Electric, is the north star the “why” for everything, we do. The meaning behind CASE will significantly shape the strategic future of our company of which we as IT are a major part. Our IT strategy defines the “what” we do. And for the “how” we do IT we have defined five IT Joint Priorities: “Free and Open Source Software” “Cloud & DevOps”, “API Architecture”, “People in IT”, and “Identity and Access Management”. By embracing our Joint Priorities we are convinced that we can become #TwiceAsFast.

You will agree that these are ambitious goals. And the project leaders and managers are doing great jobs spreading the ideas. Since implementing this technological and cultural change is a task that needs the participation of our whole Team.

3. Understand failure as part of learning

On our way to achieve these goals, it is almost certain that we will meet challenges and make mistakes. There are many examples of successful ideas that stumbled around before they really took off. And failure is not bad at all, since it allows us to improve.

The experience I made taught me that it is all about the way seeing failure as part of learning and a chance to grow. Continuous learning from mistakes, errors and failure ensures our individual and collective development.

4. Create momentum and enjoy success

At least as important as accepting failure as part of learning is, it is to also celebrate success. In a competitive world, being best comes from our drive to stay ahead of the competition. But celebrating achievements is something you easily forget having tight schedules and being busy with day to day live. Therefore, I like having fixed dates, some planned time to get together to say thank you and connect.

Our annual meeting is one of these chances to look back at what we have already accomplished and to get ready to rock what’s ahead. And I have to admit I have many reasons to be proud of and celebrate this team. #TwiceAsFast


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Jan Brecht is responsible for IT at Daimler including all its brands: Mercedes-Benz, smart, Freightliner, etc. He agrees that "Software is eating the world" (Marc Andreessen), and believes in DevOps and Open Source. With the IT strategy "Data is the new Oil", his team is shaping the digital future of Daimler and Mercedes-Benz.

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