Book Review – Dynamic Reteaming
dynamic reteaming

The title “Dynamic Reteaming” conveys a complex topic in just two words, however it covers a host of complexity:

  • Dynamic -This is not a single one off activity but a continual active process
  • REteaming – As well as initial creation of a team, the change and evolutionary kinetics of a team described as reteaming is the main focus.

Each chapters has a clear no nonsense heading,  no elaborate or thought provoking titles, just simple clarity.

  • What is reteaming
  • Reteaming patterns
  • Tactics
  • Conclusion

The first chapter has a good general introduction to teams and provides an overview  to the flow of the book.

The second section of the book covers the five patterns for dynamic reteaming. It also includes an anti-pattern chapter. As well as describing the pattern, it covers variations, tips and advice and also includes pitfalls and downsides. There is a fresh honesty about the way this model is described and the fact it won’t fix any issue out of the box.  Humans are fragile and delicate with different needs that cause complex team interactions. The patterns proposed by the author are:

  1. One by one
  2. Grow and split
  3. Isolation pattern
  4. Merging pattern
  5. Switching pattern

All these patterns make sense, and I have personally seen and used them. It is refreshing to have someone capture and document them.

The third section covers tactics. I found chapter 11 to hold some of the real gold nuggets of information within the book. It covers adapting your organisation with a collection of hints and tips. I especially like the advice on rituals, suggesting that you celebrate the end of an old team in a positive way before moving on to the new structure, with the ability to draw a clear line in the sand.

The fourth section is the conclusion and  is very short. At  just over 2 pages it is the author’s reflection, rather than a summary of key points.

The appendix includes some useful detail and descriptions of the tools the author mentions throughout the book. These cover things such as using of a whiteboard to facilitate teams changing, and a group event to facilitate the change. If you are going to approach a team change these appendices will provide you with a valuable useful set of tools.

The book has a good flow, it makes logical sense and the clarity of the section titles means the table of contents is easy to use. It gives a good general introduction to teams,  and explains a set of patterns for handling team changes. It is pragmatic and straightforward, and reinforces the concepts with real life experiences. These stories show the design patterns working and  difficulties that were encountered to give a rounded view.

Overall I would recommend this book on Dynamic Reteaming to any team manager, CTO, CIO, development manager, Director of engineering, VP of product delivery who have more than one team, and will have to handle issues and pushback that come with every team change.  In particular I would recommend reading the book  prior to making any changes, rather than reflecting afterwards. The author has been clear and straightforward making it an easy book to read and understand the five basic approaches described. The real life stories are very useful to add colour to the concepts.  My only comment would be that all the stories are quite similar and feels very USA focused, however as a European reader they are all still applicable. 

Details of Book on Dynamic Reteaming

Dynamic Reteaming: The Art and Wisdom of Changing Teams by Heidi Helfand, 26 June 2020

Published by O’Reilly Media Inc, 26 June 2020 ,

275 Pages

ISBN: 978-1492061298

Review copy of the book provided by O Reilly

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