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Strengths-based IT Development Teams

January, 2020

IT departments are notoriously introverted places. Rooms full of skilled people sitting in front of monitors, hand on mouse, working hard, and not interacting. Given the type of work being done—highly focused, detailed, and often repetitive—such an environment is an appropriate fit. That is, IT development lends itself readily to introverted personality types; just as fast-paced direct sales jobs lend themselves to extroverts. So, what happens when a Strengths culture is integrated into such tech spaces?

We know all about this at Accelerated Innovations, where we’ve been building our Strengths culture for nearly a decade. What it means, in a nutshell, to be “Strengths-based” is this: As a team, we focus on what’s working, not what’s broken, and we support one another in doing what we each do best—growing rapidly in our strengths as opposed to shoring up our perceived weaknesses. When we do this, each person is encouraged to double-down on their areas of strength and to let go of this idea of being “well-rounded”.

We let the team, as a whole, be well-rounded by supporting each individual to do more of what they do best. In some ways it is counterintuitive to the norms of culture today, where being good at everything is held as a virtue. And, maybe it is a virtue, but the data from Gallup points out repeatedly that it is really not a winning strategy. As the founder of StrengthFinder points out, “Trying to be good at everything is a recipe for mediocrity.”

So, how does this look on a day to day basis at AI? It looks, in fact, like a pretty normal software development team. The difference, however, is in the team’s understanding of how they are each is valued, supported, and encouraged to grow. Our Strengths are posted publicly, we bring the language of Strengths to every meeting, and we hold monthly Strengths discussions to secure the philosophy at top-of-mind. In truth, we default to Strengths when resolving issues and creating visions. The pressure to “always have the right answer” has been completely replaced by “Who can help me reach the right answer?”

Our Strengths culture is about liberating each member of the team from the restraints of be-it-all-ism. When we do that, each member is free to show up more often in their zone of greatness and contribute in a way that benefits everybody. Everything we do is built on a core foundation of Strengths. This means that MyMeter® is an outcome of Strengths. It’s all we do, and we love what we do.