E6S-027 Building a Project Team

***Diverse Experience Builds Strong Teams***                                                                              

Welcome to the E6S-Methods podcast with Jacob and Aaron, your source for expert advice on Lean, Six Sigma, and performance improvement methods. In this episode number 27: Building a Project Team, we review the healthy characteristics for a productive cross-functional team.  Diverse Experience Builds Strong Teams. Here we go. 

Objections: Only local SMEs and technical experts can come up with the best solution.

Counter: Psychological Inertia by bounded thinking. The best solutions are a combination of expertise and abstraction/divergent thinking, blending “what is” with “what if.”                                                  

I            Cross-functional teams are best                    

a.       Original Poem;
The Best of You

To the wisdom of old, recolor thine eyes.

To the restless and bold, take heed to the wise.

For ‘tis not within you, but between you,

Where the best of you, dormant lies. –Aaron Spearin

b.      The best teams bring a diversity of strengths, perspectives and experience and bring with them the “protective” biases as stakeholders representing a specific area

i.      Examples:  Mars Rover: electrical, mechanical, fluids, communications, analysis, 

1.      Robotics Engineers, Astrophysicists, Astronomers,  Exobiologists, Public Relations, Security Analysts, Material Scientists, Analytical Chemists, Philosophers (Ethics), “Gamers”/controllers

ii.      In general, cross functional teams perform better than the average performance of the individual members... i.e. 1+1=3.... Not necessarily better than the best member, but better than most members, and far better than the worst member.  Survivial of the whole vs survival of the few.  The “best” scenarios are those that have filtered through the varying interests, biases, and experiences of each team member. 

1.      Examples of successful cross-functional teams; Four Great Teams in Business History http://www.cbsnews.com/news/four-great-teams-in-business-history/

a.   The Java Development Team at Sun Microsystems -The platform-independent Java programming language added interactivity to the then-static Web

b.         Ford Motor Company -Ford used the cost savings from mass production to make the automobile affordable.

c.       The Google Team- They created the most popular site on the Web, powered by search-engine technology that helpfully ranks results based on how many other sites link to a page.

d.      Walt Disney and His “Nine Old Men” - Revolutionized children’s films and created some of the most memorable and profitable characters in cartoon history

II         Where to look for potential team members              

a.       Look at your SIPOC & Stakeholder Management Plan,

b.      Select Team Members to Represent

i.      Suppliers

ii.      Process Owners

iii.      Customers

iv.      Subject Matter Experts

v.      Other Stakeholders,

vi.      And a non-partial 3rd external perspective,                

III      Considerations when selecting team members                     

a.       Expertise,

b.      DiSC Profile/ Communications Style--Note: When choosing an external perspective, be sure to choose one that will participate.  They are there to share outside opinions, not to be meek and follow along with the rest who “know better”

c.       Resource constraints

d.      Personal Interests       

IV      Roles, Characteristics & Functions to fill.  Shoot for some mix of the types below balancing high performing individuals with high performing collaborators (5-8 members); *Roles are fluid, meaning a “challenger” will at some point need to be a “conformer.” http://www.cbsnews.com/news/building-a-cross-functional-team/

a.       Leader-aims to get the best out of everyone Forms the team; sets objectives; monitors performance; provides structure.

b.      Challenger-rocks the boat      Adopts unconventional approaches; challenges the accepted order; comes up with ideas.

c.       Expert-provides specialist advice      Provides a professional viewpoint, often from an external source (for example IT, accounting).

d.      Ambassador-makes friends easily     Develops external relationships; understands external environment; sells the team.

e.       Judge-down to earth, logical, careful Listens; evaluates; ponders before deciding; avoids arguments; seeks truth and the best way.

f.       Innovator-provides source of vision, ingenuity, and creativity         Uses imagination; motivates others; evaluates and builds on ideas; deals with complex issues.

g.      Diplomat-steers team to successful outcome Influential; builds alliances in and out of the team; good negotiator; aids agreement; often becomes leader in difficult times.

h.      Conformer-helpful, reliable, co-operative     Fills gaps; jack of all trades; seldom challenges authority.

i.        Outputter-chases progress     Self-motivated; focuses on tasks and results; imposes timescales; checks progress; intolerant of other people.

j.        Supporter/mediator-focuses on team relationships  Builds morale; resolves conflict; gives advice; supports and encourages.

k.      Quality controller-ensures tasks done well   Checks output; preoccupied with high standards; focuses on quality.

l.        Reviewer-monitors performance        Observes; reviews performance; promotes feedback; looks for pitfalls.       

Thanks for listening to episode 27 of the E6S-Methods Podcast.  Stay tuned for episode number 28, where we discuss the “how to’s” of the necessary pre-planning before giving a project presentation to your executive champions. Subscribe to past and future episodes on iTunes or stream us live on-demand with Stitcher Radio. Follow us on twitter @e6sindustries. Find us on LinkedIn to join a discussion. Outlines and graphics for all shows are posted on our website, www.E6S-Methods.com. “Journey Through Success”