Teams are the beating heart of an organisation. Designing teams to operate effectively within a slim structure is key to success of the whole organisation, especially so when teams are working from home or are a blend of home and office working.
In my earlier two blogs I connected the importance of a razor sharp strategy with creating design criteria to guide design decisions and spoke about Building resilience into slim structures. These two blogs mostly covered the first 3 questions of the Team Design Canvas we use to help our clients paint a picture of their future.
In this blog I will focus on the remaining three questions.
Whether you are developing agile teams or aiming for efficient operations both require disciplined ways of workings to deliver the teams objectives.
This means you need to be clear on what the team does. In an agile team this may be called a sprint, in a manufacturing company it may be a manufacturing process. Either way you need to understand what tasks need to be completed to deliver the teams’ objectives. This allows you to determine the gap between the future demand on skills, knowledge and expertise vs what is currently available within your team and organisation.
Mapping out these tasks is a helpful way to inform where the boundaries are between teams to ensure good hand-offs, collaborative working and clear accountabilities. As most people have done a bit of baking before, a simple example may be the hand over from dough making to rolling and cutting out rings for a pie. This is a good hand over point as dough making is a whole unit of work which a someone or a team in a factory can plan, deliver and evaluate how well they’ve done. The next teams unit of work will begin with dough that’s met their specifications to which they can add further value.
Clearly understanding the work of your team together with how you want the team to operate informs what level of decision authority is needed within the team and who is accountable for these decisions to get the work done.
Lastly the combination of these activities will help you to recognise the key stakeholders your team needs to collaborate, and how the team aligns with the wider organisation to deliver it’s razor sharp strategy.
I want to emphasise the point about collaboration because while our teams are still dispersed around the country working from home or maybe as a blended team, communications, coordination and alignment need to be worked on intentionally.
In fact when we’ve run webinars on how leaders have coped through COVID one of the major insights is the requirement to invest time and effort into coordination between teams. As Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI, says “You can create value with breakthrough innovation, incremental refinement, or complex coordination. Great companies often do two of these. The very best companies do all three.”