What is the genesis of this workbook?
I developed the original version of this workbook for AQP over eight years ago. I had been serving a judge and trainer for AQP's Team Excellence Awards (TEA) process for several years, and I been working with project teams, such as quality circles and quality improvement teams since 1982. It was bound to all come together sooner or later. While the AQP TEA process was developed to recognize the comprehensive problem solving efforts of these types of teams, we had never really looked at using the criteria as a template for developing sound projects. This workbook was built around that exact premise - the TEA criteria can be used to plan projects and track project progress as much as they can be used to assess team excellence.
Why do we need project teams?
If you have already reviewed my web pages that are devoted to team types, you know that I believe that work teams are needed to drive continuous improvement and projects are needed to supply an organization with the innovation necessary for significant jumps in performance. As an industrial engineer, I learned early on that you do not have to use a team to identify, develop, and implement high impact projects. Improvement can happen with only individual effort. I also learned early on however that the power teams provide to project development efforts can be awesome. Using teams instead of individuals to develop projects can enhance project ownership, creativity, time to market, and impact.
Why aren't project teams more successful?
Over the last thirty or so years, the use of teams to develop and implement projects has been unfairly tagged with a negative image. Teams are too slow and they don't pick the right things to work on, in turn making them more trouble then they are worth. In short, a lot of people have said "We tried teams, but they did not work." Like I said, I think this is an unfair tag, but at the same time, it is representative of the types of results you will get from teams IF you fail to properly support them with training, engineering resources, computer access, information about what the organization needs to be successful, and meaningful recognition.
How can this workbook help project teams become more successful?
Teams that use the tools in this workbook will identify projects that better meet the needs of the organization and its stakeholders. The tools will also help a team keep their project on track, define potential project roadblocks, and select project solutions that remedy the true root cause of a problem. This workbook can also help managers and team facilitators better understand when teams should be used to work on projects and how their teams can better use their valuable 'in meeting' and 'between meeting' time to develop their projects. The team meeting is not the only place where project work takes place. In fact, if you count primarily on the team meetings as the vehicle for project development, it is no wonder that it takes six months to a year for the team to complete its work. How much progress could you make on a complicated project if you were only given twenty to forty hours of project time?
What should I do next?
The first thing you need to do is decide if you need to use teams, along with individuals, to put projects in place. Hopefully you will. Once you make that decision, you can decide how you want to train your teams to use the tools that are contained in this workbook. These tools can also be found in other publications, but I do not feel that they are presented within the context of a project development system. Lastly, you should look at the efforts of your project teams will be coordinated with other project development efforts in your organization. In other words, how can teams be used effectively to support the annual and strategic plans of your organization?
You also might want to consider purchasing the companion workbook to this one, which is entitled "Are Your Teams Working? - Keys to Team Effectiveness" to help ensure that you provide the supportive infrastructure that is necessary for team success. Keep in mind that I am also available, either in person, or via the phone or e-mail, to help you with the further development of your team systems. Keep improving!
Would you like to learn more about this workbook?
Click on one of the following links to learn more about how this workbook can help you unleash the power of project teams in your organization:
Would you like to learn more about Great Systems!?
Click on one of the following links to learn even more about Great Systems! and the types of systems improvements I can help you make:
“The only thing I know is that I do not know it all.” -- Socrates