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Group dynamics – what to expect at Startup Weekend Khartoum

It takes more than just a brilliant idea to win Startup Weekend. You need teamwork. Your startup contingent will need to function as a cohesive unit for 54 hours; collectively executing on a brilliant (and validated) idea and by times up, have a demonstrable prototype to be appraised by your judges. You won’t have time for messing around. Leaders will need to lead. Autonomous toil will need to collaborate. There will be pressure. There will be stress. There will be a dichotomy of adulation and triumph as well as moments of dejection and listlessness as you progress over the weekend. Your startups discourse, its ability to overcome challenges, is part of the judging criteria. But don’t worry, it’ll be fun! Consider the 4 stages of group dynamics over the weekend, it’ll help tell your teams story and may get you bonus points at judging time!


When the minute pitches are finished and it’s time to go join a fledgling startup, there’s going to be a mad free for all recruitment drive from the idea founders. They’ll be audaciously enlisting their teams. There will be shouting. There will be desperation as mandatory team quotas need to be filled. You’ll have people pushing and shoving to join teams with brilliant ideas and capable founders and you’ll have startup pariahs that nobody wants to join. It’ll be chaotic. There might even be a touch of violence. Recruitment is a serious business at Startup Weekend. You want the right people on your team and you want to work with the best. After teams have formed, pleasantries will be exchanged. Complacency must be avoided at this stage. You need to move on with the agenda promptly. These few hours on Thursday night will set the tone for the rest of the weekend. Agree on goals, designate workflow and begin to tackle the tasks.


Typically, decisions don’t come easily within a group and that’s more apparent at a high pressure event like Startup Weekend. Team members will be asserting their authority as they attempt to establish credibility and expertise in relation to the startup idea. The founder will be challenged. Limitations will be exposed. There will be arguments. Clarity of purpose will need to be understood quickly and persistent uncertainties need to be disparaged. Cliques and factions will form, the team will split into working groups – developers will operate side by side, hustlers will go outside together and canvas validation. Designers will work best autonomously. Your startup team needs to be focused on its end goal and avoid becoming distracted by emotional issues. Compromises will be required. If your team is suffering from a power struggle and can’t move forward, don’t be shy, go and get a mentor. They’re experts and they will help you break the deadlock.


When your startup is working as a cohesive unit and you’re flying through workflow, congratulations, you’ve reached the norming stage! Team morale is high. The talent and skill of group members has actively been acknowledged and everybody is focused on the group’s end goal – pitching a winning MVP to a panel of judges. A sense of community has been established and at this stage it’s likely that you will have high feelings of pride and accomplishment. You trust your startup team to deliver the goods; they’re competent at what they’re doing. In this stage, team members will have taken on a personal responsibility to the project. Their only ambition is to work towards the success of the ultimate goal. A word of warning though. Proceed with caution at this stage and be wary. Your team may have become impaired with ‘group think’ and controversial or innovative ideas might be withheld because team members are avoiding conflict. Stay hungry. Stay foolish. Quietly go mingle with the other startups. Check out your competition. Appraise their performance. See how you can improve comparative to them. Go seek counsel and feedback from all the mentors. Don’t ever be complacent.


If your team reaches this stage of group dynamic at Startup Weekend then I predict some team members will stay together post event and persist working on their respective startup. The performing group dynamic is when protracted stints of high productivity are realized and team members are demonstrating high level competence, are unified and operating autonomously. It is possible for some teams to reach the performing stage at Startup Weekend. Focus on over-achieving your goals and you’ll get there!

Good Luck!

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