Openers, Closers, and Support

Once upon a team, we had a reflection: it’s unfair to expect everyone to do the same work equally (homogeneity), instead the total work is spread across many complementary roles (heterogeneity).

To help us towards this understanding, Greg shared the typical formation of a Counter Strike team:

  • Openers: those who explore new opportunities
  • Closers: those who exploit existing opportunities
  • Supports: those who provide supplementary help to openers or closers



Openers love to explore. Give them an unknown territory and they can come back with a map of the explored area.


Closers love to grind. Give them a map of an explored area and they can come up with creative solutions to problems that need solving.


Supports grease the wheels to make sure everything moves smoothly. This may be mentorship, coaching, peer reviews, etc.

Me: For Example§

For me, I’m a great opener. I love doing proof-of-concepts! I love starting new projects. I love finding undiscovered gaps within spaces.

But I’m terrible at making things great. I only get so far as good enough and then I want to move on to the next exciting problem to solve.

As an opener, I’m often seen as a leader. Our culture usually celebrates openers as the heros: the first to discover something, the first to explore somewhere, the first to whatever.

Look, if everyone was like me, if everyone was an opener, we’d have a bad time. Openers can only achieve great work when they work alongside closers. In my mind, the world should celebrate closers more, I sure need you!

Team Work§

With this mindset, it’s unfair to expect someone who is a better closer to start a project from scratch. It’s also unfair to expect someone who is a better opener to do the long-tail work on delivering a project. And so on.

To generalize this mindset, everyone has an abundance of skills to offer. How do we match complementary skills together to advance our shared mission? How do we provide the support everyone needs to be their best?

So, when I arrive at a project, I’m most interested in asking the questions:

  • Who is available for doing work here?
  • What role do you want to embody?
  • What support do you need to be at your best?
  • How do you want to be held accountable for your work?

Also sometimes, the role someone wants to embody might not be the role they embody best.

Team work is an iterative and collaborative process.