Organizational Team Turbocharger: instant results

Here is a brilliantly simple technique, which I call The 4 Team Stressors, for waking a team up to some serious problems which, in the pressures of work, it has somehow managed to totally ignore and which might just sink it!


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Step 1 - Quickly describe your project according to the 4 dimensions

In as few words as possible define the project in terms of

  1. The Timeline (Stressor 1)

  2. The Team (Stressor 2)

  3. The Main Deliverable (Stressor 3)

  4. The Importance of the Deliverable to the Enterprise (Stressor 4)

If you cannot do this quickly its a sure sign that something is wrong - you would not have much confidence in a sports team where the players in the locker room could not agree on the goal before a big match.

Step 2 - Now stress the team in each of the 4 dimensions

This is best done as a team exercise with the selected action decided by a vote but it can also be used privately by the team leader(s) as an on-going sanity check

Stressor 1 - Time
What would you do if your delivery deadline was brought forward significantly - e.g. 6 months becomes 3 months? Restrict it to one proposed action only.

Stressor 2 - Resources
What would you do if in your resources were significantly cut - assume each team member is now only available half of the time they were before? Restrict it to one proposed action only.

Stressor 3 - Scope
What would you do if you had to deliver twice as much as originally planned? Restrict it to one proposed action only.

Stressor 4 - Consequences
Finally what would you do if failure to meet the new deadline, with the new resources and new scope was absolutely business critical. For example, the organisation closes and the team members all lose their jobs? Restrict it to one proposed action only.

Step 3 - Finally decide which Stressor Actions to implement NOW

Now review the 4 proposed actions and for each one ask the question

"Is there a compelling reason why we should not do this NOW for the current team situation?"

In my experience applying the 4 stressors will result in actions such as:

  • Stressor 1 - Meet with the team's customer to understand what is most important to them and negotiate the rest out of scope
  • Stressor 2 - Have a short daily structured team meeting by phone - totally focussed
  • Stressor 3 - Have a no BS conversation with every team member to ensure they are clear and committed to what needs done and that all barriers to success they identify are removed
  • Stressor 4 - Secure additional help outside the immediate project team - don't take no for an answer

Usually these actions should be implemented anyway - "The 4 Team Stressors" only serve to bring into sharp focus what the team already knew!

For a more systematic approach to improving the productivity of your organisational team, virtual or co-located, checkout The secret DNA of high-performing virtual teams.

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