Team Fundamentals, part 2

In the previous post. I wrote about how every team has four foundational elements. As a reminder, they are: 

  1. Purpose
  2. People
  3. Measures
  4. Methods

What would make each element successful?  For each foundational element, you want to check for:

  • Clarity – Is the concept clear and specific?
  • Agreement – Does every team member have the same understanding, and do they think it’s correct?
  • Honesty – Do the actions of the team support their words?
  • Effectiveness – Is it really going to work?

You can answer the first three without knowing anything about the domain, but for the last one, it helps to have some experience in that area.

Here are some more specific example questions in each category, for each foundational element:

Purpose: What problem are you trying to solve?
Clarity: Is the purpose clearly stated somewhere? Does it make sense to everyone? Is it specific enough, e.g. not something like “to be great”? 
Agreement: Does everyone give the same answer as to their purpose? Do they say they believe in it?
Honesty: Do the actions of the team demonstrate the purpose, or is it just lip service? A mission statement that hangs ignored on the wall is useless.
Effectiveness: If they solve this problem, will it lead to success in their specific setting?

People: Are the right people in the right place?
Clarity: Can everyone state their specific role and responsibility? Does it make sense and can they explain it?
Agreement: Can everyone state the role and responsibility of everyone else? Do they think people are assigned to the right roles?
Honesty: Does their use of time reflect the job they say they are doing?
Effectiveness: Are the people in the right roles, based on their skills and experience? Will the team roles and structure lead to success?

Measures: Do they know what success looks like and if they are making progress?
Clarity: Are there clear measures that everyone understands?
Agreement: Do they all agree on what the measures are, and believe in them?
Honesty: Do they really live by these measures, or are they treated as secondary to the real work? Do their actions demonstrate their support?
Effectiveness: If they make their goals in these measures, will that lead to the success that they want?

Methods: Do they have a standard way of doing their work, individually and as a team?
Clarity: Is there a clear way to get things done? 
Agreement: Does everyone share the same idea of how the work is done? Do they like it?
Honesty: Does the way they actually work reflect the way they say they are supposed to work?
Effectiveness: Are their processes hard to use, or easy? Are they efficient? Do they achieve the desired results? Is there a consistent method for improving them over time?

These elements are the foundation. The basics. It’s going to take a lot more to make a team amazing. But solid fundamentals are necessary, if not sufficient, to achieve success. It’s a good start.

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