At Atomic, every project is composed of a few team leads. For a typical project, those leads consist of a Delivery, Technical, and Design Lead. I’ve spent nearly all of my Atomic years in a team lead hot seat. While some might consider this stressful (it certainly can be), I’ve found great joy in the partnerships I create with the other team leads on my projects. These partnerships result in a better project and product experience for everyone involved.
Somewhere along the way, I started referring to this strong union of project team leads as the Team Lead Triforce. Yes, like in The Legend of Zelda.
If you’ve solved cryptic puzzles and fought off miscreants to save the Kingdom of Hyrule, then you probably already know where this is going. If you’re not familiar with the Zelda lore, that’s okay! I’m going to take you along on a journey.
Zelda Triforce History
In the world of Zelda, there’s this thing called the Triforce. The Triforce is a sacred relic composed of three golden triangles. The three triangles were left behind by three goddesses. Each triangle is representative of one of the goddesses. Together, they symbolize wisdom, power, and courage. The Triforce is so powerful that it can make the deepest desires of whoever touches it a reality.
The power of the Triforce is amazing, of course. However, in the wrong hands, it could be incredibly dangerous. Fortunately, there’s a fail-safe built in for if a villainous persona gains access. If someone heavily skewed towards one triangle (e.g. someone who is very powerful but not wise or courageous) makes a wish, the Triforce will split into its separate pieces.
Ultimately, the Triforce serves as a symbol of balance and harmony. It is essential to the stability of the Zelda universe. If the Triforce is fragmented, that balance and harmony will dissolve.
Zelda Triforce → Team Lead Triforce
While our project leads are not on a mission to save Hyrule or rescue a princess, we do still have challenging tasks in front of us that we are accountable for tackling.
Just like the Triforce, each team lead is responsible for maintaining order in one primary realm. Instead of wisdom, power, and courage, we seek to strike a balance between…
- Technical feasibility
- User desires and needs
- Business goals and outcomes
Software Product Balance & Harmony
For a software product to truly be successful long term, it needs to be technically feasible, meet the needs of the end users, and help the business achieve its goals. In other words, it needs to be possible and desired, and it has to either make money or save time.
If every software team was only composed of designers, we’d often be dreaming up amazing solutions that are not possible with the current technology available. On the flip side, if we had no designers, our end product might miss the mark for what a user actually wants and needs. If no one is looking out for the business needs, we might take too much time to get to market or focus too much effort in the wrong places. It’s all about balancing these three components.
A product that sits too heavily on one of the triangles of the Triforce will not reach its full potential. It falls apart and can lead to chaos, just like the Triforce in Zelda will if fragmented.
Team Lead Balance & Harmony
As team leads, we are each able to advocate for our respective triangles. When we work together, reaching this balance is easy, and quite frankly, enjoyable.
Each team lead also needs to individually possess all three qualities of the Zelda Triforce in order to be a successful leader.
- Wisdom for making informed decisions.
- Power for strength in decision-making.
- Courage for taking risks and standing up for what is right.
So while each team lead on a project is responsible for advocating for their respective triangle of the Triforce, they are all also required to live out all three qualities of the Zelda Triforce in their day-to-day collaboration with each other, clients, and other team members.
We’re Better Together
Operating as a Team Lead Triforce empowers us to hold each other accountable. It creates a fantastic system of checks and balances at the product level, enabling us to find that sweet spot of feasible, desired, and sustainable.
After working together long enough, team leads almost begin to meld together. A Technical Lead might very well be looking out for the needs of a user, or a Delivery Lead may notice a design that is getting a bit too technically complicated for the stage of the project. When team leads are in lockstep, they are also able to better share the pain when needed, ensuring no one piece of the Team Lead Triforce is ever too heavily burdened.
We’re stronger, more efficient, and simply better together. This is something to encourage and celebrate. After all, even Link relied on Navi to guide him from time to time.