Working in a team is hard sometimes, not because it has to be, but because we make it that way. Why re-invent the wheel every time?
Let's face it, on the whole, projects and tasks that teams work on require approximately five key tasks:
- Finding the data or information. After the team receives its direction, it needs to find out what data or information exists about its responsibilities and deliverables. This can be simplified through business intelligence or corporate dashboards.
- Finding out who knows what. Has anyone in the organization or outside the organization done something like this before? What can we learn from it. This can be simplified through knowledge management.
- Meeting with the other team members to discuss direction, purpose, the information we have and the information we need. This requires meeting management, leadership and organizational skills.
- Agreeing on a solution or set of alternatives. The team meets once the data is collected, evaluated and reviewed and sets a recommnedation or defines a set of alternatives.
- Creating a recommendation, a rationale and a paper trail. Once the team has completed its work, it makes a recommendation, creates a document or set of documents to establish its thinking and leaves behind a paper trail. This can be managed with document management.
OK, if there are only five key factors, why is teamwork so hard? Typically, competing agendas, culture, politics and unclear goals are some reasons. Additionally, even though the five tasks of a team are relatively simple, generally speaking none of these tools exist and few teams establish a "workbench" of applications or tools to support themselves. So, lack of clear objectives and political concerns cloud the ability of the team to interact well, while a lack of tools and processes interfere with the team's ability to gather, analyze and create new information.
No wonder teams struggle to create something of value. What can be done to make teams more effective? That will be the topic of the next few posts, but you can believe we'll return to two topics:
- Clear goals, culture, politics and communication
- Tools and applications to improve collaboration and effectiveness