Preston Smith's Corner

Our team doesn’t get much done as a team. What can we do?

July 2003 Quick Tip

First, ensure that you have a strong, well-understood project objective. Strange as it may seem, many teams don’t. Morgan Swink, in an excellent article in the July-August 2002 issue of Research-Technology Management (Product Development – Faster, On-time), found that of 18 factors, lack of explicit project goals caused greater lateness (70% longer than planned) than any other factor.

Then make sure that you know the project’s priority and that all of your projects aren’t first priority. Chapter 11 of our book, Developing Products in Half the Time is devoted to this pervasive problem.

Next, consider who is on your team. Are they really working toward the team’s goals or just hanging around for other reasons? It is helpful to use a breakfast analogy here. Consider a skillet of ham and eggs. The pig is committed to the breakfast, but the chicken is only involved. If you also have a glass of milk for breakfast, the cow is even less involved, contributing some nourishment, while the chicken contributes another’s life. On your team, you want as many pigs as possible and to rid yourself of the cows and maybe even the chickens.

Finally, recognize that you receive back in performance what you put into building a team. Really effective teams require effort to set up. See a Quick Tip on this topic “We call ourselves a team, but we don’t act like one. What can we do?” provides the details.

(c) Copyright 2013 Preston G. Smith. All Rights Reserved.

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