A team is a group of people working together to achieve a common purpose for which they hold themselves mutually accountable. There are many circumstances where teams perform better than individuals. We all have certain skills and abilities. Working on a team allows you to collaborate with others who have different skills and abilities and knowledge.
In many teams, the important decisions are made by the group, the key elements include:
- members share in the product of the team.
- the tasks are interdependent.
- success and failure of the team belong to everyone, not just the leader.
- many teams work across organizational boundaries.
But teams do not automatically succeed, teams need the right support, environment, leadership, and need:
- clear defined goals
- clear defined boundaries
- access to people and resources
It is natural for individual to resist change, so involve them to create ownership. It also takes time to understand the history behind the problem and avoid ‘tampering” with apparent solutions before fully studying causes. It is important to pay attention to the people involved.
The people we need to understand include: the team, others involved in the process, and stakeholders:
- identify how much change
- understand affected people’s attitudes towards the change
- understand potential reasons to resist
Types of Teams
|Planning and analysis for day-to-day and strategic issues.
|Problem solving teams.
|Come together to solve a specific problem then disband.
Might stay active and address a number of problems in sequence.
|Almost always temporary. and focused on one objective.
|Natural work teams
|Permanent or at least longstanding.
|Highly trained extension of natural work teams.
|Members rarely see each other and communicate and work through technology.
Stages of team development
Team face common issues (not often spoken about):
- personality identity
- relationships among team members
- identify with the organization
Every team goes through these stages
|Some members might be eager and excited, others might be anxious and confused.
They probably don’t know what to do, exploring the boundaries of group behavior.
|Members begin to gain more confidence in voicing their opinions.
May result in conflict among some group members.
|Start to come together and beginning to work as a team.
Team identity and feelings of membership are starting to grow.
|They work smoothly together and in concert.
Know each other, value each others’ strengths while accepting weaknesses.
|Project is over and team will disband.
Individual and team reflection.
Brainstorming is a commonly use and effective method for generating lots of ideas. It can lead to creative solutions and strengthen team identity through participation. The goal is quantity, not quality. We can sort out the quality of the ideas later. How to use brainstorming:
- Define the topic
- No evaluation
- Encourage wild ideas
- Build on ideas of others
- Strive for quantity
Common types of brainstorming include:
|Everyone shout out ideas.
|Go around the table ant take turns.
|Write idea down and pass them to a scribe.
Nominal group technique is similar to the Slip method in brainstorming, but when all ideas are accurately recorded, discussion begins to clarify and evaluate ideas. Finally the group will select one or more ideas through the use of team decision-making tools.
Affinity diagrams are another silence technique, particularly useful for large number of ideas. Put all notes of ideas on the wall or whiteboard. All the team members go to the wall and silently rearrange the notes into natural groups. Then team can discuss and label for each group.
When reducing the list, no idea should be removed from consideration without the consent of the person who proposed it. Never discard an idea, they might be useful later. Finally you list of idea will be reduced to a manageable size.
For decision-making, we usually go through a sequence where we generate a large number of ideas, then through the use of various tools, we make the list smaller until we reach a decision. There are lot of options for what tools we use, some examples are:
- Prioritization. It is to have each participant rank order their top picks for selection.
- Multi-voting. Each member get multiple votes.
Communication within a team or to stakeholders is critical to team success. It is better to have a written communication plan – what should be communicated, to whom, when and how.
|Every meeting should have a specific purpose.
|Everyone knows what will be discussed and decided.
|After meeting, minutes should be distributed.
Enforce what decisions were made and who is responsible for action items.
|Communicate the progress and result of the team.
Meetings also have roles and responsibilities:
- A designated meeting leader
- Good idea to have a facilitator to help keep the team on task
- A time keeper
- A scribe to prepare agenda, to record sessions and action items and to distribute minutes.
For more on Six Sigma: Teams, please refer to the wonderful course here https://www.coursera.org/learn/six-sigma-principles
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