How often do you see teams charging into a new project full of energy and enthusiasm only to collapse in a heap when once it’s been delivered or not get there at all because they’ve run out of steam and lost focus, returning to the comfort blanket of the old to-do list? Add in pressures like recruitment and resource challenges or conversations about where the work gets done, and it can be tough keeping the team on track.
How teams execute their plans is a subject that’s close to our hearts because it’s where goals become reality. And the key word here is how because when we talk about executing plans, we mean developing repeatable, sustainable practices, just like the 20-mile march. Practices that will enable teams to continue delivering projects and programmes time and time again, without anyone falling over.
The difficulty is that there might be plenty of mental models to help individuals achieve goals like the classic New Year’s ‘I’m going to run a marathon’ resolution. But there aren’t the same number of frameworks to help teams’ achieve their big goals, whether that’s launching a new product or rolling out an organisation-wide transformation programme.
Here at LIW we believe there are a few key ideas to help leaders and their teams to stay on track as they execute their plans, and we thought we’d share them with you.
Doing to learn
Just as good sporting teams don’t keep the learning on the training pitch, we don’t believe in keeping learning in the classroom either. Successful sports teams respond to the opposition, changing conditions and situations in the moment, while they’re still on the pitch.
Successful leaders and their teams apply a similar doing to learn process to the execution of their plans. A ‘Plan, Do, Review’ approach embeds learning into a team’s day-to-day activities. Regular touchpoints like sprints, stand-ups and retros enables teams to plan, review and execute plans in the short, medium and long term. Adopting a learning or experimental mindset, where you’re constantly learning means you can flex and adapt activity while never losing sight of your end goal.
One thing we have seen teams learn during this process, sometimes the hard way, is that how teams discuss, and review activity is crucial. Take a task that doesn’t get completed on time or something gets done but not to the standard you need or expect. This shouldn’t trigger a blame game but your learning mindset so that you can understand what happened, learn and adapt. It’s less of the ‘what’ you talk about than ‘how’ you talk about it.
‘To use a sporting analogy, when things don’t go to plan, do you play the ball or the person?’
Dan Meek, CEO
What’s your why?
In last month’s blog about motivation we talked about how important it is for teams to be able to clearly articulate what their purpose or big goal is and why it matters so that individuals can find the connection with their personal goals and ambitions.
The 3Ws framework helps teams to get clear on what that big goal is and how they’re going to achieve it. The first question, ‘Where are you heading and why?’ is crucial in clarifying a team’s direction, but the answers to the second and third questions ‘Where are we now and what next?’ are equally important if plans are going to become reality.
‘If you want to achieve your goals, stop focusing on your goals. Instead focus on setting yourself up for success.’
Andy Chevis, Head of Design & Research
It all looks so simple written down but developing repeatable, sustainable practices is a skill that team’s need to keep working on if they’re going to, stay on track and achieve their goals.
To find out how we help to turn teams turn into high performing teams with our Team Acceleration and other learning and development frameworks, contact us for a chat. Or dive into our resources and check out our white papers, blogs and research papers on all things Teams.