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Saturday, September 19, 2015

Team Is Work. Real Team? Real Work.

You’re responsible for accomplishing some result that requires the efforts of a number of people.

That establishes several specifics. First, as the leader and focus of this activity, you will organize and manage the work of different people to achieve a single end.

Then, there will have to be communication in various forms through multiple channels. And your responsibility will have to be subdivided. You retain it overall, but share it and delegate it in the process.

You must satisfy the expectations of those you answer to, and you must have productive response from those who answer to you.

All that being so, you are the director of multiple layers of teamwork. All of your constituencies share a fundamental definition, but each of them is distinctly different in how it works. You are in the catbird seat at every stage in every function.

None of this is easy, which is why we see so little really effective teamwork in these situations. When it’s a true project, all the challenges are hyped by some level of complexity, risk and uncertainty – but the essentials exist in any group effort to do something.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Planners, Doers & Project Managers

     Two people are brainstorming one April day about how to make money over the upcoming summer.
     “Hey,” says one. “Why don’t we build and market a house? We can make a bundle. Sure, we don’t know anything about construction and selling houses – but we have lots of management expertise. We can hire people to do all the other stuff.”
     If they go ahead with this idea, what could go wrong? Plenty, of course.
     When I’ve asked project managers to come up with specific errors the two could make, they have little trouble building a hefty list in a very few minutes. They’ve certainly seen enough of it.
     There can be errors in judgment: Whom to consult for subject-matter expertise, whom to hire as contractors, where to build, the type and size of the residence. They could get in trouble with financing, and with managing the budget. They could run into environmental or materials problems. They could fail to monitor the process properly.
      Ask the same people to produce a list of things the pair could do right, and you get different views of mostly the same topics.
      Then comes the crunch: How do they categorize the items on the lists? Those practices, both errors and effective activities -- are they management? Or are they planning? Individual skills? Teamwork? Or are they in some other skill area?