#183 – Team Cognitive Load

There is a point between being a Product Team working on one product and technology, and being a company-wide Feature Team working across all your products and technologies. The latter case is, often, unrealistic because our teams simply cannot embrace the knowledge and skills needed to be that much across all products—a limited number is possible.

In order to learn how ready teams are to work on another product, start talking about their Team Cognitive Load. Cognitive load was coined by psychologist John Sweller in 1988 as “the total amount of mental effort being used in the working memory”, and we should start talking about it and measuring it on both an individual and team level—e.g., by simply asking: “Do you feel like you’re effective and able to respond in a timely fashion to the work you are asked to do?”, as Matthew Skelton and Manuel Pais suggest in their book, Team Topologies, which also gives suggestions on how to generally reduce Team Cognitive Load.