Build a high-powered team - Part 1

There are four steps to building a high-powered team as an effective and simple project management strategy.  This blog will cover the first step.

The first step is to create a deliverables-based project plan.  This means all of the first two levels in your plan are tangible items, things that you can point to as something accomplished, rather than activities, which are actions taken to accomplish a goal.

I provided an audio on this and will also be producing a guide, which will be coming out soon.

Activities are actions that are used to accomplish the end products that are in scope for the project.  Activities can change as the team members find better ways of accomplishing items.  However deliverables will be more constant as they represent the agreement of what is to be given in exchange for payment according to the terms of the contract.

If the first two levels are deliverables based then staff will be focused on what is being accomplished rather than getting caught up doing their activity according to what is spelled out in the plan.  To say it another way if I identify to you what needs to be done and break it down into one level of subcomponents below that, but don’t tell you how to do it, you will be more motivated, in general, to find the most efficient activities to achieve those subcomponents.

However if the approach I provide to you is to list the high-level activities that I expect you would have to do to accomplish a deliverable, then I leave you no room for creativity and instead confine you to that approach whether or not you find a more effective way of achieving the same result.

For example on one of my project management jobs I inherited a project management plan where there were high-level steps which included the team using a particular tool to create an architecture diagram.  The project plan essentially then in black and white specified that this tool had to be used and the outcome which was a diagram that could be shared with the team was merely something produced as a result of the project task.  I could hear on initial discussions that they had some reservations that this was the best way to accomplish it.  The problem was that someone had purchased the tool and it would have looked wasteful not to use it.  However for the sake of the project and the team, and not the tool, I re-did the project plan whereby the first two levels of the plan specified first that there was to be an architectural diagram and then below that, the three key components that had to be a part of that diagram in order for it to be usable by the rest of the team and the project.  What was fascinating is that the team responsible for this, was very motivated now, bypassed the tool, and created the architectural diagram and its components in less than half the time it would have taken to do it in that particular tool; and they kept the costs in-line with expectations.  Not only that but you can imagine what a natural high that was for the energy of the team and the individuals to collaborate for an end result like that.  Also it was better than what that particular tool produced.

In summary, the first step to building a high-powered team as a simple project management strategy is to create a deliverables-based project management plan rather than an activities-based plan.  This will ensure the team is focused on and motivated to work together to find the best ways of achieving the outcomes in the plan and this will go a long way to creating a platform for a high-performing team.