Thursday, 10 December 2009

Development Teams across cultural boundaries

I have been part of many development teams from all over the world. As I migrated from team to team, I see the good mix of experiences and background that each team member contributes to the team. Apart from contribute to the team in technical manner, they also contribute to the team from a personal perspective. The current team that I am working on has 10 different nationalities. As I am being expose to people from different cultural backgrounds, my personal growth advanced a bit more.

Lets hold that thought for a moment and think if a team will work better or worse if each of the team member is from a similar cultural background. I mean, would the team stand a higher chance of delivering the project successfully? would the team deliver a project on time?

I really don't have a clear answer for this. From my observations and from events from the world at large, the evidence points to a NO answer.

Imagine a development team where the team members have been together for more than 25 years, speaks the same dialect of the language and graduated from the same University. Would such a team work?


Allison said...

A new team is hard enough to get a feel for - add in remote locations and getting it right the first time gets really hard. However, once the team has worked together, I'd say that the different cultural and social views can lead to a better designed product and one that could be successful in multiple markets.

however, it does take a strong manager, lots of face time (and no, the fact I love to eat my way across Taipei or Osaka or Delhi does not play a role in that ;-).

Building up a cross national team, I think, is important in this day and age and it's why you'll see HP stick with Foxconn, or Kodak run with LiteOn (or a subsidiary).

tehnyit said...

Hi Allison,
Thanks for the insightful comments. I tend to agree with you that the product has a higher chance of being successful across the borders if the team is multinational.
I also wondered if a there certain mix that would work better than others. Eg, the combination of French and English would not as well as say Americans and Canadians?