Dimensions of Team Effectiveness – Knowing the success factors (part 2)

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Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships. – Michael Jordan

Team work is a product of people working together. The current post is the second part of a two part post on the dimensions of team effectiveness – success factors. To quickly recap, although every team is different; when you take away the specific task and context, all teams are fundamentally alike. By that, I mean all teams expend some effort to get their mission accomplished. Throughout the literature there are six important factors that I feel are important to address (Greenberg, 2010; Kabaga & Browing, 2003).

  1. A clear purpose
  2. An empowering team structure
  3. Strong organizational support
  4. Positive internal relationships
  5. Well-tended external relationships
  6. Efficient informational management

These areas can then be used to help further define a team’s success. This post will address the last three: although all of the six are important to a team’s success. Specifically, I cover some symptoms of dysfunction and a recommendation for success.

4. Positive internal relationships

Maintaining positive internal relationships within your team is extremely important. There are many different kinds of team difficulties and deficiencies that strain relationships and surface as bad attitudes, mistrust, and power struggles. In addition, team roles that are unfilled, and a lack of organizational support, no high-level sponsor, and a lack of resources all can cause a team to perform sluggishly but look like individual problems. Resentment and blame may follow.

Symptoms

  • Favoritism: When some members are perceived as having a closer relationship with the team leader than others, it’s likely that the team isn’t enjoying full cooperation among all its members.
  • Safe tactics: Tactics that just barely satisfy team objectives may be a sign of poor or weak relationships among members. In the absence of robust relationships, teams may value harmony above finding the optimal ways to do things. The tactics they adopt may be designed primarily to minimize conflict and strife.
  • Turnover: When individuals consistently find reasons why they can no longer serve on the team, it’s often a sign of disagreeable, stressful relationships among members.

Recommendation

Even when there is a clear purpose, appropriate knowledge, an empowering team structure, and good organizational support, personality conflicts and unproductive relationships may hinder the team’s work. When this is the case a good intervention might need to be a series of activities. My two suggestions would be an offsite and an assessment. The offsite could be used to build camaraderie, reinforce team identity, pride, and the vision of the team. The second would be to utilize an assessment; they can give the team a clearer view of strengths and complementary working styles of its members.

5. Well-tended external relationships

No team exists in a vacuum. Effective, well-performing teams understand the needs and perspectives of many external stakeholders, some inside the organization and some outside. In particular, effective teams operate with the awareness that the external environment is constantly changing.

Symptoms

  • Playing politics: Take a close look at how the team relates to stakeholders in the company, and see if undue weight is being given to organizational politics.
  • Angry suppliers: If vendors are complaining, if often indicates that the team doesn’t understand their operations and constraints.
  • Alienated customers or clients: The purpose of a team frequently relates directly to serving and satisfying the organization’s clients. Unhappy customers may be a sign that the team has lost sights of its purpose.

Recommendation

If your team isn’t effectively using its external relationships, one simple action to take is to have some who represents one of those relationships (i.e., vendor) to come and speak to the team. Training and coaching can help members understand stakeholder perspectives, and look beyond attitudes and complaints.

6. Efficient informational management

Managing information is a major challenge in today’s complex geographically dispersed organizations, and one that is often overlooked as it applies to teams. Teams are not effective in the absence of accurate and timely information. Both the team and its external stakeholders need to clearly understand the lines of communication and then need to use those communication channels, or information gaps can become information caverns.

Symptoms

  • Missed market changes: When news from the outside world isn’t incorporated into the team’s continuing work, it’s a sign that information-gathering systems need to be revamped.
  • Erroneous conclusions: Too many wrong answers and unwise decisions may indicate that the team isn’t receiving and considering enough information to make solid decisions.
  • Missed opportunities: If the window of opportunity keeps closing on your team, it may indicate that the team is not getting and disseminating information in a timely manner.

Recommendation

To manage information to bolster effectiveness it is important to consider which communication channel best helps the team overcome performance weakness. When team effort is low for example, less reliance on email and more attention on face-to-face meeting can help renew member efforts by underscoring their cooperative relationships.

References:

Greenberg, J. (2010). Managing behavior in organizations. Pearson Prentice Hall.

Image: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/111745634479612461/

Kabaga & Browing (2003). Maintaing Team Performance. For the Practicing Manager. Center for Creative Leadership.

 

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How to Achieve Total Project Success

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I love it when disciplines come together! I attended a workshop on the integration of project management and change management from the Project Management Institute (PMI) and Seminars World. The focus of the workshop was on creating total project success through a comprehensive project management framework. I had the opportunity to not only learn a framework for total project success, I got to collaborate with managers from Honda, Boeing, Johnson & Johnson, Kaiser Permanente, Uber, Honeywell, and a many more. A big thank you to Thomas Luke Jarocki for an enlightening workshop!

In this blog post I summarize the five factors for total project success, the project management framework, and my major takeaways.

5 Factors for Total Project Success: 

1.) On time

2.) Within budget

3.) According to scope/specifications

4.) Broad organizational & user adoption

5.) Value realization

Project Management Frame work: 

  • Phase 1: Project initiation
    • Assess whether or not there is an worthwhile opportunity to consider pursuing
    • Secure the necessary financial political, and human resources support
  • Phase 2: Assess alternatives
    • Develop a variety of alternatives (options) to realize the solution
    • Select and gain buy-off on the most attractive alternative
  • Phase 3: Detail design
    • Develop designs that reflect stakeholder needs and drive organizational value
    • Gain the necessary buy-in of the detailed designs before further committing time and resources
  • Phase 4: Build and Final prep
    • Often times a long and expensive phase, good PM skills are paramount
    • Don’t underestimate the time and effort to develop and pilot the peripheral support material as well as primary driver of change
  • Phase 5: Deploy/Implement
    • The primary objective is adoption and utilization: deployment is simply the delivery vehicle
    • Stabilizing the current state as quickly as possible will go a long way when it comes to sustaining the change and realizing benefits
  • Phase 6: Support, sustain, enhance
    • Have ownership of the project outputs adopted and utilized to create value
    • Explore how to enhance the long term value of the initiative

Lessons Learned: 

  • If I can sum up my biggest takeaway  it is that “Projects are the vehicle of change.”

1.) Phase gates: are a formal process where a project review board reviews the work of the project team

  • Activities involved in closing out a phase gate:
    • The work to date is of high quality – ” Inspect what you expect”
    • Other points of view or different solutions were not overlooked – socialize recommendations
    • Key issues and risks are being identified and addressed
    • Understand what the path forward looks like
    • Ensure there is alignment amongst key stakeholders
  • Key decisions to close a phase gate:
    • End- the project is over or will no longer be funded
    • Suspend – the project is put on hold until other issues are resolved
    • Re-work – project team need to augment or improve upon the quality of their work
    • Conditional proceed – the project is given the green light on the condition particular revision are made to the project or work
    • Proceed – the project is given the green light
  • Example questions:
    • Do we have alignment on the scope/purpose/objectives for the next phase of work?
    • Has all work been completed in a satisfactory manner? Are confident we won’t have to rework anything.
    • Do we have to modify our governance structure/project processes for the next phase?

2.) Stakeholder management

  • Overall I saw using this approach as a clear method on satisfying the end-user adoption and other stakeholder management issues well before deployment so operational disruptions are minimized and business value realization can occur much sooner.
  • Below I outline how stakeholders should be separated and when to consider engagement within the project.
  •  Tier 1 Stakeholders: Senior leader and key decision makers
    • Facilitating the adoption of a program, project or change vision and commitment the resources required prior to occurrence of any change.
    • Participate from phase 1 to phase 5
  • Tier 2 Stakeholders: Project contributors
    • Facilitating the adoption of the program mission, working processes, and required effort.
    • Participate from phase 2 to phase 6
  • Tier 3 Stakeholders: Change recipients/ users
    • Facilitating the adoption of a change that is a result of a project or program
    • Participate from phase 3 to phase 6

References: 

Jarocki, T. L. (2011). The Next Evolution–enhancing and Unifying Project and Change Management: The Emergence One Method for Total Project Success.

Photography: Hillary Barker. http://www.hillarybarker.com and on Insagram: @Iwillshoot

 

Top 3 Posts of 2015

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Wondering what you have been reading this year on Leadership Archways? Here are the top 3 posts from 2015!

1.) 5 strategies that will improve your verbal communication skills.

2.) What is Organizational Behavior and Why Does it Matter?

3.) Followership: Why is it important for Leadership?

As we round out the year, it is important to look back on what has happened in 2015. The past year has been defined by historic farewells and debuts, as well as scandals and feel-good success stories. Here are just a few of the stories that made a huge impression on the public’s consciousness in 2015.

In the news, we have had a crazy year from the Charlie Hebdo Attack in Paris to fall of Greece’s economy, and Jared from Subway going to jail.

In the technology sector there was Excel 2013’s Flash Fill, Apple Watch, New Horizons’ Pluto pics, and October 21 (“Back to the Future” fans? Anyone?)

When looking at pop culture, there was the transformation of Bruce to Caitlyn, “50 Shades of Grey”, and “Saturday Night Live” turned 40.

Overall 2015 has been a exciting year and I know I am looking forward to what is ahead in 2016!

 

 

Today’s Top 10 Biggest Companies

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All of the world’s 10 biggest companies as measured by market capitalization are American. While these companies have their roots in the U.S. and are the embodiment of “all-American” qualities such as innovation and industry, their reach is worldwide and their marketplace global.

The disproportionate number of American companies in the ranks of global titans now can be attributed to a confluence of favorable factors in recent years.

Here are the world’s top 10 companies (the markets caps are as of Nov. 17 and are based on Google Finance):

  1. Apple (AAPL) – Market cap $634 billion. The world’s most valuable company continues to reap billions by selling millions of iPhones, iPads and other coveted gadgets.
  2. Alphabet (GOOGL) – Market cap $505 billion. New holding company Alphabet was created in August to separate Google’s main businesses such as search and advertising from a plethora of new projects that are riskier long shots. Those include such ventures as Life Sciences (whose projects include a glucose-sensing contact lens), Calico (focused on longevity), driverless cars and secretive lab Google X, plus investing units Google Capital and Google Ventures.
  3. Microsoft (MSFT) – Market cap $428 billion. Microsoft was the world’s biggest company at the turn of the millennium and continues to be a steady presence in the ranks of the giants.
  4. Exxon Mobil (XOM) – Market cap $334 billion. Exxon Mobil was the world’s largest company in October 2007, with a market cap of $510 billion, but a 30% decline since then has pushed it down to the No. 4 spot among the mega-caps.
  5. Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A) – Market cap $328 billion. Warren Buffett’s holding company reported record net income of $9.43 billion in the third quarter, driven by a one-time investment gain in Kraft Heinz (HNC). Berkshire Hathaway became the largest shareholder in Kraft Heinz after Buffett helped finance the merger that created it.
  6. Amazon (AMZN) – Market cap $301 billion. Amazon’s shares reached a record high this month as the stock surged 112.5% for the year, the best performance of the top 10 mega-caps. The stock has had a meteoric rise in the current bull market, having surged more than six-fold since 2009.
  7. General Electric (GE) – Market cap $308 billion. GE reached a seven-year high in November after reporting third-quarter results that beat expectations. The company is returning to its manufacturing roots and moving away from its financing activities, by selling $200 billion in assets from its GE Capital division and completing the split-off of its consumer-finance business Synchrony Financial. Although GE was among the world’s biggest companies during previous bull cycles that peaked in the years 2000 and 2007, the stock now trades at less than half of its all-time high reached in August 2000.
  8. Facebook (FB) – Market cap $293 billion. Facebook has the distinction of becoming the fastest company to reach $250 billion in market cap, having done so in about three and a half years since its initial public offering in May 2012.
  9. Wells Fargo (WFC) – Market cap $281 billion. San Francisco-based Wells Fargo became the largest U.S. mortgage lender with its 2008 acquisition of Wachovia Corp in a $15 billion stock transaction. Wells Fargo traded at a record high in July, but has since retreated 5%.
  10. Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) – Market cap $280 billion. J&J, the only health-care company in the top 10, reached a record high in November 2014, but has since pulled back about 7%.  J&J is one of only three U.S. industrial issuers that have a AAA rating from credit-rating firms Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s.

Why the Top 10 Are All American

The U.S. accounts for a disproportionate percentage of the world’s largest companies for possibly three reasons:

(a) the relative out-performance of U.S. equities in this bull market: Since March 2009, U.S. equity indexes have outperformed their global peers by a wide margin. The S&P 500 has gained 210% (from March 9, 2009 to Nov. 6, 2015), while the Dow Jones industrial average has advanced 173%. But even these impressive performances pale in comparison to the Nasdaq Composite’s 305% surge over this period, which is the biggest reason technology titans comprise half of the top 10 list.

(b) the strength of the U.S. dollar: Since the beginning of 2014, the dollar has gained against all 16 major currencies, and has advanced almost 22% versus the euro and 14% against the Japanese yen.

(c) the premium valuations accorded to U.S. mega-caps:  That means that a dollar of net income will probably fetch a higher market value for a U.S. mega-cap, compared with a European or Asian company.

The Bottom Line

The five biggest technology companies in the world are American. So are the world’s biggest bank, diversified conglomerate, energy company, health care product manufacturer and industrial firm. History shows that such dominance in the ranks of global titans does not last forever.

References: 

Read more: Why All of the World’s Top 10 Companies Are American http://www.investopedia.com/articles/active-trading/111115/why-all-worlds-top-10-companies-are-american.asp#ixzz3tH3tOhE1

Image: http://www.internations.org/usa-expats/guide/working-in-the-usa-15497/taxation-and-business-culture-in-the-usa-3

Dimensions of team effectiveness – success factors

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Individual commitment to a group effort – that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.
– Vince Lombardi

Team work is a product of people working together. The current post is a two part post on the dimensions of team effectiveness – success factors. Although, every team is different; when you take away the specific task and context, all teams are fundamentally alike. By that, I mean all teams expend some effort to get their mission accomplished. Throughout the literature there are six important factors that I feel are important to address (Greenberg, 2010; Kabaga & Browing, 2003).

  1. A clear purpose
  2. An empowering team structure
  3. Strong organizational support
  4. Positive internal relationships
  5. Well-tended external relationships
  6. Efficient informational management

These areas can then be used to help further define a team’s success. This post will address the top three; although all of the six are important to a team’s success. Specifically, I cover some symptoms of dysfunction and a recommendation for success.

       1. A clear purpose:

This is a frequent cause of team dysfunction. Everyone on the team should be able to answer the question: What are we here to accomplish? When purpose is clear to all, it provides  the motivation for ongoing effort and willingness to endure setbacks and tackle tough obstacles.

Symptoms of an unclear purpose:

  • Foot dragging and boredom: When part of the team’s task becomes mundane, repetitive, or unclear, motivation can drop off.
  • Duplicate skill sets: When too many members have the same competencies and expertise, those skills may be overemphasized and the direction of the team can shift.
  • Convoluted tactics: Complicated, confusing, disjointed ways of getting things done are often a sign of that the team is unclear about its purpose.
  • Low trust levels: People struggling to make their work purposeful may not trust others to help them in that struggle.

Recommendation:

One technique is to re-evaluate your goal setting. Help the team set challenging goals for itself that are clearly tied to its purpose, and that will require ingenuity and renewed effort to achieve.

2. An empowering team structure:

An empowering structure helps the team make the most of its resources. Teams usually develop tacit, unwritten norms that govern the behavior of the members. Problems may develop when there is turnover in the team and new members work against the prevailing norms. The processes established for the team to carry out its work need to be reviewed periodically to see if they are working well. Teams that feel a sense of ownership about the procedures and processes they use will be motivated to follow them.

Symptoms of an un-empowered team:

  • Frustration about roles: Undefined, missing, and duplicate roles can be sources of frustration.
  • Can’t do attitude: The lack of a key skill and the inability to acquire that competency – can cause your team to stumble or even fail.
  • Rigid structure or lack of structure: There has to be right balance of structure and autonomy in a team.

Recommendation:

Set aside time at team meetings to re-visit, roles, responsibilities, norms, and procedures. Often in the midst of changes tensions arise between members because then don’t have a shared understanding of what is expected of one another – they are not on the same page. The team can use this time set aside to review and update procedures and norms, even when change is occurring.

 3. Strong organizational support:

Sometimes, the cause of team failure lies outside. Not all required resources can be anticipated when a team is formed or launched; so organizational support involves provides the team with resources it needs on an ongoing basis. Organizational support can be in many forms; endorsements to take time on a project, team rewards, and opportunities for education or training.

Symptoms of low organizational support:

  • Counterproductive rewards systems: If you’re rewarding individual effort instead of team effort, you’ll find that people won’t give their best to the team task.
  • Roundabout tactics: if the team’s tactics are designed to get around the organization’s policies; that indicates that the norms of the organization are an obstacle to team success.
  • Ill-designed information systems: Without clear channels and processes, information flow can get stalled; making it difficult for the team to share what they have learned or know.
  • Out-of-kilter control systems: Unclear or overbearing control systems (i.e., inventory, human resources, financials, and regulations) can get in the way of team effectiveness.

Recommendation:

Use a suitable rewards system, which can underscore the organization’s support. Rewards don’t always have to be financial. Highly visible recognition, celebrations of milestones, and even educational opportunities for members can serve as team-oriented rewards.

Please stay posted for my next installment of team success factors.

References:

Greenberg, J. (2010). Managing behavior in organizations. Pearson Prentice Hall.

Image: http://www.thales-ld.com/blog/five-ways-boost-team-effectiveness/

Kabaga & Browing (2003). Maintaing Team Performance. For the Practicing Manager. Center for Creative Leadership.

 

10 Habits of Successful People

While attending the International Leadership Association Conference in Barcelona this year; one question kept coming up for me. What makes a person successful? Aside from the random element of luck, much of what makes some people successful involves the cultivating of certain habits. Learning what these habits are and how to employ them in your own life could be a worthwhile exercise.

Upon returning home, I surveyed the research and reflected on my observations at the conference. To that end, here are 10 of the most often cited habits of successful people.

1. Organization

One of the most frequently mentioned habits of those who are successful in life is organization. Organization includes planning as well as setting priorities and goals.

Joel Brown, founder of Addicted2Success.com, calls for a prioritized “To-Do List” every evening before going to bed to prepare for the next day.

According to Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, Sunday is an important day for organization and a time to “get ready for the rest of the week.”

2. Relaxation

It’s interesting to note that relaxing – by meditating or simply avoiding distractions – is another one of the most-often mentioned habits of successful people.

Of course, relaxation comes more easily to those who are organized, so perhaps for some it is more of a natural byproduct than a conscious decision.

It may also be that the act of “taking a breath” is the successful person’s way of preparing for the effort yet to come. In fact, one of the first steps toward achieving a meditative or relaxed state is to concentrate on your own breathing for three to five minutes.

3. Taking Action

Third on the list of habits of successful people is the inevitable “action” habit. It is important to organize, to plan and to set priorities, but without action, a plan is nothing more than potential.

Successful people act – quickly and often. In addition, although it may sound counter intuitive, according to James Clear, they act (start, anyway) before they feel ready.

According to James Clear, while others come up with reasons not to act, successful people take that all-important first step – even if it seems outlandish.

4. Personal Care

Personal care with regard to diet, exercise and hygiene comes next on the list of habits of those who are successful.

For some, personal care involves a complex regimen and a highly disciplined lifestyle. For others, not so much. Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla Motors, (see Is Elon Musk’s Hyperloop Economically Feasible?) put it succinctly when asked what daily habit has had the largest positive impact on his life. In a tweet, Musk said simply, “Showering.”

5. Positive Attitude

According to many successful people, having a positive attitude is not just a result of being successful – it’s one of the root causes of success.

Joel Brown refers to gratitude and positive self-talk as priorities in the lives of the ultra successful. Moreover, Brown says, it’s not enough to express gratitude and a positive attitude. You must also remind yourself why you are grateful in order to achieve a deeper effect.

 

6. Networking

Successful people know the value of exchanging ideas with others through networking. They also know the value of collaboration and teamwork – all of which are likely when you network.

According to author Thomas Corley, successful people know the importance of surrounding themselves with other successful people. Corley says 79% of wealthy (successful) people spend at least five hours a month networking. By contrast, only 16% of poor (unsuccessful) people network on a consistent basis. For more, see 10 Tips for Strategic Networking.

7. Frugality

Frugal is not the same as stingy. Frugality is a habit of being thrifty, with money and resources. It is also a habit of being economical. Learning to be economical comes through avoiding waste, which automatically results in efficiency.

Corley notes that wealthy, successful people avoid overspending. Instead they comparison-shop and negotiate. The result, according to Corley, is financial success through the simple act of saving more money than they spend.

8. Rising Early

The more time one can devote to being successful, the more likely success will result. Successful people are accustomed to rising early, and that habit appears repeatedly among those who do well in life.

While the “Early Riser’s Club” has a huge membership among successful people, a few notable members include Sir Richard Branson (see How did Richard Branson make his fortune?) of Virgin Group, Disney CEO Robert Iger and Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer.

9. Sharing

Whether through donating to charity or the sharing of ideas, successful people have a habit of giving. They know the value of sharing and most believe their success should result in something more than the accumulation of wealth for themselves.

Some of the most well-known successful philanthropists include Bill and Melinda Gates, Oprah Winfrey and Mark Zuckerberg.

As Keep Inspiring Me points out, however, lack of wealth does not need to be a factor when it comes to sharing. Volunteering in your community or at a local school does not cost anything but could provide help where it is needed most (see Retirement Tips: Choose The Best Charity Annuity).

10. Reading

It’s important to note that successful people read. While they also read for pleasure, most use their reading habit as a means to gain knowledge or insight.

For anyone who needs inspiration about the value and importance of reading, look no further than the example of billionaire author, J.K. Rowling, who says she read “anything” as a child, and who advises, “Read as much as you possibly can. Nothing will help you as much as reading.”

The Bottom Line

Most people have habits – some are positive, some are not. Successful people tend to have more of the kinds of habits that contribute to their success.

The good news, for those who wish to be successful, is that cultivating positive habits takes no more effort than developing bad ones.

Some of the best habits of successful people involve only conscious effort – i.e., getting up early every day. Others, such as becoming organized, may take a little more skill and practice but ultimately result in the most desired outcome of all – success.

References: 

Image: http://muddaser.com/leadership/respond-success/

Investopedia.com

 

Monitoring and Maintenance for Successful Team Outcomes

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When you take a step back and think about it, it is not hard to tell if a team has been effective. The results tell the story. If the team has been effective,

  • the outcomes – products, services, ideas, or recommendations – meet or exceed stakeholder expectations;
  • members of the team feel satisfied with the process and the product of their effort;
  • team members have learned lessons that will make themselves and the organization more effective in future initiatives.

The road to such results can be plagued with potholes, and teams frequently run into obstacles and problems along the way. They may fail to live up to their potential, fail to deliver expected outcomes, or fail to produce their results in a timely manner. Many of these can be prevented if team leaders assess their team’s performance. This is particularly true when a team’s mission will take more than a few months to accomplish.

Three strategies to help monitor and maintain successful teams:

1.)  Taking the pulse of your team at several points in time. This can help you safeguard against any resources or action items that may cause failure.

2.)  Don’t wait until a problem surfaces. Often managers wait until the problem becomes apparent that their team isn’t hitting its interim goals.

3.) More often then not they can be traced to a flaw in the basic foundation; perhaps it doesn’t have a clear mission, or doesn’t have the support it needs from top management.

References: 

Kabaga & Browing (2003). Maintaing Team Performance. For the Practicing Manager. Center for Creative Leadership.

http://www.insight.com/insighton/healthcare/remote-monitoring-can-you-handle-it/

Leading Cross-Functional Project Teams

Agile-role-of-cross-functinal-teams-ProjectDirectors.org_

Leadership roles across different types of teams are similar in many ways, but each type of team also has unique challenges for leaders. I am dedicating this blog post to review of the limited research on what type of skills and behavior are needed for effective leadership in cross-functional teams.

A cross-functional team is a group of people with different functional expertise working toward a common goal (Krajewski & Ritzman, 2005). Typically, it includes employees from all levels of an organization. It may include people from finance, marketing, operations, and human resources departments. Members may also come from outside an organization (in particular, from suppliers, key customers, or consultants).

Despite the extensive use of cross-functional project teams during the past 30 years, research on skills required for effective leadership of cross-functional teams is still limited. Because the tasks of many cross-functional team require innovation, research on leading creative people is also relevant for understanding effective leadership in these teams. Reviews of the relevant research (Ford & Randoiph, 1992; Mumford, Scott, Gaddis, & Strange, 2002; Yukl, 2002) suggest that leaders of cross-functional project teams need technical expertise, cognitive skills, interpersonal skills, projection management skills, and political skills.

Technical expertise: The leader must be able to communicate about technical matters with team members from diverse functional backgrounds.

Cognitive skills: The leaders must be able to solve complex problems that require creativity and systems thinking, and must understand how different functions are relevant to the success of the project.

Interpersonal skills: The leader must be able to understand the needs and values of team members, to influence them, resolve conflicts, and build cohesiveness.

Project management skills: The leader must be able to plan and organize the project activities, select qualified members of the team, and handle budgeting and financial responsibilities.

References:

Ford, R. C., & Randolph, W. A. (1992). Cross-functional structures: A review and integration of matrix organization and project management. Journal of management, 18(2), 267-294.

Krajewski, L. J. and L. P. Ritzman. 2005. Operations Management: Processes and Value Chains. Pearson Education, Upper Saddle River.

Mumford, M. D., Scott, G. M., Gaddis, B., & Strange, J. M. (2002). Leading creative people: Orchestrating expertise and relationships. The Leadership Quarterly, 13(6), 705-750.

Yukl, G. A. (2002). Leadership in organizations.

 

Leading in the Digital Age

technology

In today’s digital economy, organizations are decentralized – that is, power to make decisions is spread out among different people. What’s more, the pace of change is so blindingly fast that leaders rarely have the luxury of making decisions with careful deliberation. Finally unlike traditional workers, many of today’s employees demand independence and autonomy. In short, they are reluctant to be led in the traditional sense of having someone tell them precisely what to do.

As you might imagine, these considerations have important implications for the way today’s dot-com leaders are required to operate. Some of the most important implications of the internet economy for leadership are as follows (Greenberg, 2005; Labarre, 1999):

1.) Growth occurs so quickly that strategies have to be change constantly. For example, Meg Whitman, now CEO of Hewlett-Packard, says that while she was at eBay the company grew so rapidly (often 40 to 50 percent each quarter) that it became an entirely different company every few months (Lashinky, 2003). Leaders cannot take anything for granted, except the fact that whatever they decided to do yesterday may need to be changed tomorrow.

2.) Leaders of technology companies are not expected to have all the answers. The highly technical nature of the business and the rapid pace of change make it impossible for just one or two people to make all the right decisions. According to Jonathan Buckley, retired CEO of Barnesandnoble.com, today’s leaders “must be evangelists for changing the system, not preserving it.”

3.) Showing restraint is critical. There are so many opportunities available to technology companies today that executives can too easily enter into a bad deal. For example Andrew Jarecki, cofounder and CEO of Moviefone, Inc., ignored the many suggestions he received  to go into business with a big portal before agreeing to what proved to be the right deal – acquisition by AOL for $386 million in stock (Greenberg, 2005).

4.) Hiring and retaining the right people is more important than ever. In the world of the internet and technology, the average tenure of a senior executive is only 18 months. Constant change means that the people who are hired for today’s jobs must meet demands of tomorrow’s jobs as well. As Jay Walker, founder of Priceline.com puts it, “You’ve got to hire ahead of the curve,” adding, “If you wait until you’re actually doing [as much business as you expect] to hire the necessary talent, then you’ll be too late” (Labarre, 1999).

5.) Today’s leaders must not take anything for granted. When Mark Cuban and his partner founded Broadcast.com (before selling it to Yahoo! four years later for $5.7 billion), they made lots of incorrect decisions. Instead of sticking to them, they quickly adjusted their game plan to fit the realities they faced (Greenberg, 2005).

6.) Leaders in technology must focus on real-time decision making. Traditional leader were trained to gather lots of data before making carefully researched decisions. According to Ruthann Quidlen, partner in Institutional Venture Partners, leaders can no longer afford to do so: “If your instinct is to wait, ponder, and perfect, then you’re dead…leaders have to hit the undo key without flinching” (Labarre, 1999).

References:

Greenberg, J. (2005). Managing behavior in organizations. Pearson Prentice Hall.

Labarre, P (1999). Unit of one: Leaders.com. Fast company, pp 95-98, 100, 102, 104, 108, 110, 112.

Lashinsky, A. (2003). Meg and the machine. Fortune, pp 68-72, 76, 78.