Ever been part of a committee or team that started out doing well, but gradually lost momentum?
This is a fairly common phenomenon, one that can destroy a previously productive group. It is also something that is avoidable.
When we work with a new team, they sometimes come to us with a specific problem or project they want to take on. We help them identify the specifics of the problem, then look for solutions that solve the issue and meet the interests of all participants.
If they did not have a specific problem in mind, we ask them to brainstorm a list of possible problems (usually short-term) or projects (normally longer term) that are meaningful to their organizations. We then work with them on a prioritization exercise to determine the one (or ones) them consider to be the most significant or important to their workplace.
In the process, we help the team identify specific goals for resolving the problem and action plans to achieve these goals. We provide them with the tools they need to ne successful.
Sometimes, when a team has resolved the issue they started with, the progress ends. They feel they have finished their work. However, if the expectation is for the team to continue to work together, they need to look beyond what they have started to identify the next issues for their work.
As teams make progress on resolving their problem, we ask them to go back the list they created in the brainstorming exercise. We encourage them to identify the next item from the list on which they want to work. Just because a problem wasn’t chosen the first time doesn’t mean it is not important.
Doing this helps maintain the focus of the team as the set and achieve goals related to the new project. They are better able to maintain focus and remain productive for the benefit of their organizations.
If new circumstances warrant, the team can decide to take on a problem not on the original list. By continuing to work on the list of identified problems or resolving new concerns, the team remains productive and works toward the continuous improvement of their workplace.
It is not easy to stick to this process. Some members may feel their work is finished when a problem is resolved. Others may be reluctant to take on another project due to their workloads or other factors. However, when teams continue to work together it benefits the entire organizations and the individual members.