Presentation: Unlocking the “Secret Sauce” of Great Teams



1:40pm - 2:30pm

Day of week:


Key Takeaways

  • Learn a highly structured and effective approach to building high performing teams.
  • Hear suggestions, lessons, and successes on building effective teams. 
  • Become aware, learn to acknowledge, and practice new behaviors embracing these differences for team building.


In a recent article published by The New York Times Magazine titled, “What Google Learned From Its Quest to Build the Perfect Team”, Google discovered that “psychologically safe environments” and establishing group norms of communication and empathy were the secret sauce to building highly productive and engaged teams. In this session, Heather Fleming, VP of Product and Program Management at GILT will take you through two frameworks she uses with individuals to improve communication, increase empathy and establish the psychologically safe environment a team needs to thrive.

First, Heather will lead you through a Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI®) self-assessment exercise to demonstrate how the MBTI can be used to understand your own preferences and their impact on your team. She will show you how you can use the dichotomies of the MBTI to help teams have a common language to use when they talk about how they feel or why they may react to things differently than others might expect.

Heather will also demonstrate how GILT builds teams around initiatives using a “Team Ingredients” framework. This framework focuses on each individual's strengths and talents and what they are contributing to the team rather than placing an emphasis on job titles, roles and responsibilities. Find out if you’re the team’s “Motivator” or “Cruise Director” and understand why these ingredients are a part of what builds a perfect team.


Your title obviously is about building great teams, but can you explain your talk title to me?
I think a lot of people are interested in how other companies think about teams and what are the different “ingredients” that make up a great team. I want to show people a few ways we’ve accomplished this at GILT. One of these happens to be called the “Ingredients Framework” so it’s literally our “Secret Sauce”.
What’s the motivation for your talk?
I’ve always believed that there was tremendous benefit to creating a psychologically safe work environment where you could be your whole, authentic self at work and not feel like you had to be one way at work and one way at home.
The sharing of yourself and what is happening in your life, both good and bad, creates bonds with people at an emotional level. This connection builds trust and empathy and understanding -- and teams that have this tend to be the ones that succeed against all odds. This was pretty much a gut-level belief for me without much scientific data to back it up, so when the article in the New York Times came out about Google’s findings, it was exciting to see that science was starting to explain what I had believed all along.
I thought that other people would benefit from some basic MBTI self-assessment knowledge, and our Ingredients Framework is unique to GILT, but I’ve mentioned it in other presentations I’ve done at conferences and it has been an area that gets a lot of curiosity and questions, so I thought it was time to do something more formally around this topic.
QCon targets advanced architects and sr development leads, what do you feel will be the actionable that type of persona will walk away from your talk with?
I’m hoping they’ll gain some insight into who they are and that not everyone thinks and acts the same way they do, and that by flexing into some other areas of preference that they’re not as comfortable with they can become stronger leaders and make greater connections with people.

Speaker: Heather Fleming

VP of Product & Program Management @GILT

As the VP of Product & Program Management at GILT, Heather Fleming works with teams on a variety of initiatives including funnel optimization, site search, product listing and detail page redesigns, loyalty programs, alternative payment methods, shipping, returns & exchanges, international e-commerce & redistribution, B2C marketplace, customer service, and sale prep optimization tools -- just to name a few! Prior to her role at GILT, Heather held a dual role in leading Product and Project Management for XO Group where she was responsible for launching their new lifestage-media brands and Heather has been featured in a Harvard Business Review study on Agile as a competitive advantage and is an active speaker on Agile methodologies at many national conferences including: Agile Alliance, Atlassian Summit, ADC East, Agile NYC, and Big Apple Scrum Day.

Find Heather Fleming at

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