How to get teams that both execute and innovate


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It’s hard enough to get Web, IT and marketing professionals to work together on a team. Now imagine getting such teams to both execute superbly and still be extraordinarily innovative. Sound like a blue sky dream to you? I don’t think so.

Welcome to The Teim. It’s not a typo; the “ei” stands for – you guessed it – execution and innovation. It’s also not a piece of software, a six-figure consulting initiative or a process so complicated you need eight people just to explain it.

The Teim is comprised of four principles. Period. They’re relatively straightforward, and – being principles – they’re free. Take ’em. Gratis.

All we suggest is that you let teams volunteer to adopt these principles. Forcing them to do so is not going to work.

Value the Value: Too many teams operate without clear metrics, and thus they end up making fuzzy decisions. This is a slippery slope to disappointing results. Instead, teams should assign a tangible value to every deliverable, and – this is the important part – such predicted values should be tracked and validated after the team delivers their work. In this manner, team members can’t game the system, inflating values to give their pet projects priority treatment.

The philosophy underlying this principle is simple: businesses exist to make money, and if a project doesn’t support that goal in a tangible way, the team shouldn’t be doing it.

Be Explicit: Look at a website or a software module created last year. Is the purpose of each element crystal clear? Is this purpose documented in a project plan, and notated clearly in the code? If you ask a team member why each element was included, do they have similar answers?

Clarity not only makes a team work more efficiently, but it also makes it far easier for team members to reuse work products and build on each others’ efforts. The rush to get things done can obscure or eliminate the value of a deliverable. By being explicit, teams can both move fast and keep essential requirements front and center – where they belong.

Create Options: “Should we do this or not?” is an outdated, far too binary question. Teams need to make decisions about what to do next while they also create more options they can pursue – or not – in the future. For example, instead of committing now to a nine month project to create a new customer management system, a team could take a one month project that will preserve the team’s option to deliver that system, but also deliver a work product that has value even if the larger project never takes place.

In a volatile world, it’s essential for teams to keep their options open. Instead of “go, or no go?”, they need to think “how do we best stay nimble and flexible?” There is an emerging body of risk management tools called Real Options strategy and more recently Opportunity Engineering that can help teams make sound decisions that preserve their options even in the midst of constantly changing requirements and requests.

Shorten Workplans: The longer a team works before delivering a tangible result, the more likely the deliverable is to fall short of expectations. A far better approach is to break large projects down into smaller pieces, and to regularly complete deliverables.

By shortening workplans, teams also make it easier for team members to explore new strategies and take risks. This is because the cost of taking a risk and failing is minimized; you lose a week instead of six months. This tactic also maximizes flexibility, because at the end of each project the team can decide what to do next.

These four principles are both interconnected and mutually supportive. Shorten Workplans fits perfectly with the philosophy of Create Options. Likewise, Value the Value is a best practice of Be Explicit, and vice versa.

You can learn more here. We would love to talk with teams interested in adopting these principles, so that we can help them share best practices.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Bruce Kasanoff
Managing Director of Now Possible, was cited by The Chartered Institute of Marketing among their inaugural listing of the 5 most influential thinkers in marketing and business today. He is an innovative communicator who has a track record of working with highly entrepreneurial organizations.


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