Belgium is a nation that loves cycling! A lot of cycling enthusiasts cycle weekly and watch their favorite races on TV. And if they get a chance, they will travel to races and watch it live. In the spirit of Tour de France, this post is dedicated to highlighting similarities between a cycling team and a well oiled IT team.
Instead of explaining the cycling terms in boring wiki-style or long historic anecdotes, let’s skip to the fun part and focus on how they translate to IT teams. It’s clear that there are many different roles in a cycling team. Hint; same can be said about an IT team. So here it goes.
The domestiques are the silent force in the background doing the heavy lifting. They sacrifice themselves for the greater good and are quite content doing so. They don’t like to be in the spotlight. Instead, they will make sure the more prominent “GC rider” can steal the show.
Usually, in my team, these are the more junior profiles. By positioning them in this role, they learn a lot and understand ‘the game’ better.
GC riders are the faces of the team. The “GC rider” talks with the customer or business. They are typically part of the more senior professionals of the team and have a good understanding of the important dynamics in a project. And quite often, they also have a solid understanding of what sustainable stakeholder management and project management looks like. GC riders can guide the team and make decisions, understand the strategy and vision and they know what needs to be done to deliver the project.
Grimpeur (Climber) / Puncheur (Puncher) / Time trialist rider
The Grimpeurs are specialists in their field. Experts with certain strengths that can be used when needed. They do have an extensive general knowledge, but when it comes to specific knowledge or tasks, they step up and take over. The specialists are often a very valuable member of the team. In some cases, they are exactly the competence that will enable the entire team to do well when it comes to solving specific challenges and excel in complex customer case work.
Sprinters are members with ‘great legs’ in a given project. The are the members that take the lead on the final sprint and go that extra mile at the end of a project to make sure that deadlines are met and deliverables met in a timely manner.
The support functions at the core of a team’s success
Let’s not forget the immediate support functions who enable the cyclist team to do their very best. A team is only as successful as the support and overall management of the conditions and the environment that the team has to preform in.
No team is complete without a competent director or manager. This is a capacity with a great responsibility as he/she sets the course and leads the entire team towards the goals that are set. The manager is also directly responsible for ensuring a fully functional, healthy, and pleasant work environment.
The directeur sportifs could be compared to competence leaders, who define strategy and vision for the competences and capabilities of the teams. They identify trends and innovative technologies that are crucial to master in an ever-changing market. A competent director sportif has a finger on the pulse and is always two steps ahead of the game.
Coaches are the technology leads and the experts in certain technology stacks. The hold the latest knowledge on technology functionalities and updates and can coach and guide the team members to become self-sufficient and improve their competences on a daily basis.
Every IT teams’ technical setup and gear need maintenance now and then. That’s why every IT team should have their very own IT support team to make sure that everything runs smooth and all devices are up to date and ready to race.
Doctors, therapists and soigneurs
Self-care and physical and mental wellbeing is very important and should be a priority for any company wanting their team to excel in perfromance. Part of that success is tied to competences who knows how to proactively attend to the individual team members. Such support functions help the team balance work and life in one beautiful symphony. Ultimately, a healthy body and mind will enable the team to explore their full potential.
Over the years, it has become clear that as an ambitious individual, you can ‘win’ certain stages of a race on your own. Yet, it’s the team effort and a succesfull collaboration that allow you to win the entire race. It’s so important to be surrounded and supported by a good team and a competent support group if you want to take home that yellow jersey and win the hearts AND the projects of exciting customers.
Together we can achieve more!
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