For more please refer to the "Systemic Nature of Teamleadsky Framework" section of the longread.

When a group of professionals works in a team, and the outcome of their combined effort is greater than the sum of their individual efforts, we say that we observe synergy.

Achieving a state of synergy is a necessary condition for a highly performing team. Faced with a situation when a team is not showing synergy, organization needs to find a solution and fix the situation fast.
However multiple external and internal factors can affect teamwork, and often even finding the root cause would mean already solving a larger part of the problem.

Striving to identify the root cause of missing synergy and design solutions, organizations put under scrutiny the three domains of work, which are Processes, Structure and Purpose.

  • Processes are specifying how the work is done, and are predefined sets of rules that describe the roles, responsibilities and organize the flow of events. Most of the tech companies are borrowing processes from popular Agile frameworks and adapting them to their needs.

  • Structure defines the boundaries, coordination and communication flows within the organization. In tech we often work within flat hierarchies with very few management layers. We talk about organizing the teams around features, or around customer lifecycle stages, and discuss the pros and cons of matrix organization, when people take part in more than one project or team.

  • A compelling purpose communicated through the company Vision and Mission provides the sense of direction and guides the decision-making. Together with the demonstration of the shared company values it also gives work a meaning, supporting intrinsic motivation of the team members.
After analyzing the Processes, Structure and Purpose, finding weak spots, designing and implementing improvements, such as training the team members on the work processes, re-organizing the teams or creating the Vision and Mission from scratch organizations often discover that after all the effort taken, there are still teams that underperform.

And even more than that, Process, Structure and Purpose-wise these teams often look perfectly fine. However if we take a closer look at the daily interactions of the team members, we can discover some commonalities, which are not present in the highly performing teams. We call these commonalities Teamwork Anti-patterns.

Teamwork Anti-patterns are systemic problems, in many cases resulting from reacting to immediate events and focusing on the symptoms or on parts of the issues, rather than searching for the underlying patterns and addressing the root causes.

To recognize the anti-patterns you should look for the relevant signals. These signals are the "red flags" that should cause concern. In case if you observe them, you should take a closer look to check whether a certain anti-pattern is present.

You can find the descriptions of some common anti-patterns, including the signals, impact and the examples of underlying conditions at

If you have observed an important anti-pattern and would like to share it, feel free to send it over to

Written by Aleksandr Zuravliov

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