When Teams Fail

Michael R. Wood is a Business Process Improvement & IT Strategist Independent Consultant. He is creator of the business process-improvement methodology called HELIX and founder of The Natural Intelligence Group, a strategy, process improvement and technology consulting company. He is also a CPA, has served as an Adjunct Professor in Pepperdine's Management MBA program, an Associate Professor at California Lutheran University, and on the boards of numerous professional organizations. Mr. Wood is a sought after presenter of HELIX workshops and seminars in both the U.S. and Europe.

Much has been written about project failures; the why’s, the impact, etc. But what about teams? Why do teams fail and what is the impact of those failures? Today, teams seem to be fleeting--gathered together for a project then disbanded once the project is over. Global projects make teams even more disjointed and disconnected as distance, culture and other team-building barriers get in the way.

It seems that management has little or no appreciation for the value of a team that exists beyond the project. Imagine if we used the same approach used to form a project team in baseball or other team sports. Under this approach, there would be a pool of players, each with specific talents and skills. Each game (the project), team captains (project managers) would select their roster from the pool based on positions, skill levels and availability. The game would be played and then the team members returned to the pool until the next game. I guarantee you this: The games would be boring (as are most All-Star games), the performances lackluster and the fans (stakeholders) very disappointed. Eventually, attendance would wane and most likely our nation’s pastime would fade into obscurity.

There is a reason to keep teams together: it’s called “superior performance”. As teams bond, build relationships and trust, they grow and become increasingly …

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