Behind the Dartboard

Explore the Dartboard dimensions, and discover tools to strengthen your team across each dimension.


1. Clear Responsibilities

People on your team need to know what their job is. And what it isn’t. When they know, they’re more likely to act autonomously and collaborate confidently. When they don’t, trouble arises. Team members can end up doing the same work, which is demoralizing and potentially creates conflict. Work can get dropped on the floor because no one feels accountable. And people can take advantage of the situation by circumventing process because the team isn’t sure when to push back.



Stakeholder map: Interest-Power Matrix


The Biggest Mistake You (Probably) Make with Teams


2. Shared Process

Cooperating and collaborating can be hard. Processes are how we agree to act to make working on a team easier. When a team understands the process they’re using, whether it’s a few rules of engagement or a formal process for dozens of people, teamwork goes a lot more smoothly. If they don’t have a shared understanding of the process, confusion reigns. Problems that can arise include duplicated work, conflict over daily tasks, work not getting done and dissatisfaction with the way a project is progressing.


Reflection: A Simple Way to Run a Sprint Retrospective


Agile Retrospectives: Making Good Teams Great


3. Experienced in Software Projects

It might seem like this isn’t something you can improve: you’ve either done software or you haven’t. But if this is a challenge on your team there are two things you can do to mitigate the risks: hire and study. Studying can involve reading a bunch of books about software, but it can also be about learning to ask good questions. If your team isn’t experienced with the type of project you’re working on, having a mentor inside or outside your company is a good idea, too.


Good questions: How to ask good questions


Kent Beck’s Extreme Programming Explained


4. Experts in Our Field

This isn’t about becoming an instant expert. This is about your team acquiring enough expertise in the field to be able to come up with the right solutions and make the right tradeoffs in your product. You should be talking to experts as mentors, but sometimes the best path to expertise if you’re not experienced in the domain may be talking to your potential users.


User research: The Carbon Five Guide to User Research


Steve Blank, Four Steps to the Epiphany


5. Clear, Shared Vision

How aligned your team is on vision affects the product at every level - from being able to get buy-in or funding, to making day-to-day decisions on how to implement features or prioritize work. If you don’t know what you’re working towards and why, you’re going to lose focus. Ensuring the vision is shared sometimes means making it more tactical. An experience map is a great tool for helping a team understand how the vision translates into what they’re going to build.


Experience Mapping: Habits of Effective Teams


To Lead, Create a Shared Vision


6. Talent is Valued

People love to feel valued, don’t we? We also like to see that other people are valued. We want to know that if we do a good job, someone notices. Teams that feel valued are more motivated. They also have more trust in each other and in their company. When people don’t feel valued, they leave. They’re also more likely to start acting politically, currying favor with the right people as a way to build their personal capital since they’re unable to do it by producing good work. The work inevitably suffers.


Feedback is a great antidote: Candor Coach


Radical Candor


7. Achievement

Achievement means something different to everyone, but there are a few shared attributes. There’s a goal. There’s some challenge. There’s some reason behind the work. And there’s a sense of progress. All of this contributes to better morale, and a more motivated team. Teams that don’t feel like they’re achieving are flat-out unhappy. The most extreme outcome is that people start leaving or checking out emotionally: long lunches, Facebook, anything to distract from the pervasive feelings of hopelessness. Productivity takes a hit. If a team isn’t achieving, it gets expensive really fast.


Status vs Impact Matrix: On High-Status Work and Low-Status Work


The Power of Small Wins


8. Debate & Decide Together

A team can get a lot of value out of building enough trust that healthy debate and shared responsibility for decisions is a reality. You can use almost any regular meeting to create opportunities: retro is particularly useful. If your team doesn’t have this level of trust, you will miss out on valuable contributions from team members who are afraid to speak up.


Fostering Psychological Safety: Why psychological safety matters and what to do about it


Tribal Leadership


9. Smallest Whole

Why build a small thing instead of the thing you really need? Isn’t that just for startups? Building incrementally allows teams to reduce risk, refine products as they build them and get to results earlier. But even teams that are trying to use incremental software practices aren’t always getting it right. Building incrementally can become building haphazardly, leading to a poor-quality product and a destruction of trust in the team and the process. To truly build a small whole takes rigorous product thinking, laser-focused prioritization, pragmatic technology decisions and an openness to course correct in the face of new knowledge. The teams that do this well are marked by trust and courage.


User Story Mapping: Story Mapping is a better way to work with Agile User Stories


An MVP is not a Cheaper Product, It’s about Smart Learning


10. Provides Unique Value

Are you sure the product you’re building is so useful it can’t be replaced by something else? Whether you’re building internally or starting a company from the ground up, it’s important to understand the other offerings available. Some other solution - whether it’s an official product or an internal workaround - may solve your users’ problem in a more appealing way. If your team can’t clearly articulate what makes your product a better solution than any other tool, you won’t be able to make the case for it to users and drive adoption. And if users aren’t using it, why spend the time to build it in the first place?


Business Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers, and Challengers


Inspired: How To Create Products Customers Love


11. Measuring Success

There are two parts to measuring success. First, we need to know what success looks like. Then, we need to be able to tell if we’re getting closer to that picture. If a team has clearly defined goals they can figure out how to work towards them. If they don’t, work can start to feel pointless or the wrong work gets done. But even a team with clear goals will flail if they don’t have good ways to measure their progress. When success becomes subjective, teams can end up in arguments over whether or not a goal has been met. Or managers can blindside a team that thinks they’re doing great with news that they have missed the mark.


Key Performance Indicators: How to Use a Single Metric to Run Your Startup

Picking Good Metrics: Measuring What Matters: How To Pick A Good Metric


Lean Analytics: Use Data to Build a Better Startup


12. Self-Sustaining

Products exist because they solve a problem that matters to someone. Usually lots of someones. For a new product to go on existing, the team has to make sure the problem they’re solving is real, the product is really solving the problem, and enough people are interested in solving the problem with this product that the product can continue to exist. For a startup, you might talk about product/market fit. If you’re building an internal tool for a company, you need to be meeting the needs of users and stakeholders so you keep your budget (or your job). If your team doesn’t know whether your product is doing this, you better be trying to find out.


Lean Canvas: Lean Canvas


Running Lean: Iterate from Plan A to a Plan That Works

12 Things about Product-Market Fit (Andreesen-Horowitz)