In a couple weeks I’m heading over to Germany to speak at a conference. With any opportunity to visit a part of the world I take advantage to see the sights. In this case I will have a couple days to explore Berlin. I intend to visit many of the famous sites while there. I’m very excited about having this opportunity to speak in Germany!
The reading I’m doing to prepare for my trip has me thinking about a challenge I’ve seen many times in project environments. The military has the challenge of bringing together large numbers of people to achieve a common goal. The challenge is getting a group of individuals to work towards a common purpose. Certainly it’s a enormous challenge in the military! (if you think it’s done strictly on orders … you need to do some research).
When you don’t do a good job of aligning the team there are many things you could experience:
- Conflict amongst team members when they don’t know what’s expected of them
- You deliver a so-so product as the team is not aligned to the value the customer seeks
- You lack the ability to track the progress of the project as you cannot get a consistent view
- Wasted money! as your project churns and goes in circles while you think you have control
- And so many more things you don’t want to deal with!
In other words, without aligning your project to a common purpose you’re highly unlikely to succeed! Sure you might deliver something, but it won’t be the success we all strive for. It won’t provide the value your customer needs from you!
So what can you do to align your team? Unfortunately there are no silver bullets, and your team is looking to you as a leader to get them aligned! Here’s some thoughts for you:
- Give them vision – It must be simple, and provide a guiding light for everyone. No fancy vision statements. Put it on the walls! Get people excited!
- Make expectations clear – Better yet … get the team to help define them!
- Create a team manifesto – teams are complex creatures! A manifesto is one of the most effective tools I’ve used to get people operating in the same way
- Tear down the walls! – no really! Offices are a curse, and cubicle walls dampen team work as much as they do sound. Create open effective spaces for team work. Get rid of the walls!
- Process – yes we need process! Priorities, schedules, scope, expectations and much more all have to be aligned. If you fail to do this people will be working to different objectives, and worse yet in different ways.
If you don’t agree with me just try ignoring this important mindset in your next project and watch what happens! Look around you. Are your people aligned towards a common goal? How do you know? How do they know? Whether it’s a big project, or an ongoing series of smaller projects you need to ensure they are aligned. Failing to do that is just inviting failure into your project.