Presentation: Building a High Performing Team



4:10pm - 5:00pm

Day of week:



Key Takeaways

  • Influencing people to work together toward the same goal requires skill in today’s world of software development
  • Learn actionable techniques that help you understand your team members in the work environment to build high-performing teams—whether you’re in a leadership role or not
  • Practical tools that you can take away and apply to your team right away to improve team cohesion and performance


As software architects, we often focus on the technical side to building software including key platform or design decisions, or finding reasons to use the latest and great technologies. We forget that software is built by people, and without considering how people work together, architectural visions are wasted. In this talk, we will explore why and how architects should care about well-functioning teams and look at the tools and techniques architects can use to build high-performance teams.


QCon: What is the focus of your work today?

I currently have two main focus areas. The first is client-side work, where I’m helping a client through a transformation. They are looking at more modern digital technologies, practices and team structures as well as help with legacy architectures. The technology is very much coupled to the people, which leads to my second focus: building technical leadership in our industry. I often see a gap when people move into architecture roles—there’s the leading side, and there’s the technical leadership side, the former is often overlooked or given little support. When working with people, you need everyone on the team contributing in the right direction.

In your talk your abstract you say: “As architects, we often focus on the technical side of building software, but we often forget software is built by people.” If we are all building something we love, won’t the people side work itself out?

As architects, we sometimes forget how to transfer information to other people successfully.

In today's world of software we work with a multitude of different technologies, tools and tech stacks—meaning we also have many different skill sets and personalities. When thinking about all those different skill sets and trying to get everyone to agree on a direction—success more often than not, comes down to influencing people to work together.

QCon: Can you give me a tip or one of the techniques you’ll explore in greater detail?

The topic of my talk is about building great teams. One of my frustrations is how organizations typically do team building. They send people out, have a fun day go-karting or doing high ropes or similar together, completely out of that work environment. While it’s nice to get to know your team on a personal level—I find this the least effective method for building teams.

My favourite technique is to talk to people about their priorities, strengths, gaps. I find through this process people open up and begin to understand people more in a work environment. You might be making assumptions about people that aren't correct, they might have strengths in areas you have weaknesses. Understanding people’s working preferences gives everyone a better chance at working together collaboratively.

QCon: How you describe the persona of the target audience of this talk?

Everyone can benefit from this. Particularly people in leadership roles—architects and engineering managers. The talk will help you create the right environment to instigate team building ideas, and also help identify where things might not be working currently, as well as offer tools to get things back on track.

QCon: What are your key takeaways for this talk?

The talk will share a number of ideas that you can apply with your team, that don't take too much time. These are exercises and practical tools that you can run to get to know each other a bit better, and work better as a team.

QCon: What do you feel is the most disruptive tech in IT right now?

Most hyped is probably Serverless. It can be could be quite disruptive, my only concern is Serverless is pretty much only Amazon Lambda. There's a lot of coupling that a lot of people don't realize they're buying into. There are other cloud groups on the edge of offering something, however Amazon Lambda is the one everyone is gravitating to. One of the biggest challenges is architecting software for change, and it’s important not to be too coupled to that one platform. While this tech is the one that will be most disruptive, it's the one that will have a lot of backlash when we fast forward say two years when people aren't too happy with the cost of Amazon for example.

Speaker: Patrick Kua

Principal Consultant and Tech Lead @ThoughtWorks

Patrick Kua is author of “The Retrospective Handbook: A guide for agile teams” and "Talking with Tech Leads: From Novices to Practitioners." Patrick brings harmony to technical and non-technical realms, leading teams and writing software for production systems in .Net, Java and Ruby and currently works for ThoughtWorks. Patrick is passionate about working closely with teams, helping them grow and learn with sustainable and long-term change, and sometimes facilitating situations beyond adversity. Patrick relies on retrospectives as a basis for improving teams, and is passionate about helping people achieve maximum value from the retrospective practice.

Find Patrick Kua at

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