In business as in sports, bringing the right team together can mean the difference between taking home the championship trophy and finishing in last place. Planning, leadership, coaching, and talent all play critical roles, but the importance of having the optimal group of skilled people aligned to work towards a common goal cannot be overlooked.
“The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.” – Phil Jackson
An organization redesign effort also depends on having a solid team to tackle the challenging work of identifying business problems, evaluating potential options, and recommending solutions. Early in the process, the Alignment Leader® (supported by the change partner) assembles a cross-functional redesign team drawn from all parts of the organization. The goal is to make sure every important issue that falls within the scope of the redesign is addressed; all stakeholders’ perspectives are considered; and each alternative is carefully considered. Otherwise, considerable time, money, and resources are wasted when the team must revisit its work to address missing or inadequate requirements.
Accomplishing this requires intense sessions geared towards producing optimal results. Once the Alignment Leader shares their vision for what needs to change and how the organization will look in the future, the team will spend many hours in work sessions led by a facilitator. Each member will need to fully participate by sharing their insights into current issues, determining how to address them, and, ultimately, deciding on the best path forward. These sessions evoke the rugby scrums often cited in the Agile methodology: people putting their heads together and pooling their resources to seek the best possible solution.
In our book, Mastering the Cube, we suggest seeking redesign team members who already exhibit the characteristics of change agents and are influential among their co-workers. As we note in the book, “If others in the organization tend to follow them naturally, they can be powerful agents for change.” Making sure the right organizational leaders are represented on the team helps pave the way for executive buy-in when recommendations are finalized. You can also consider recruiting employees with high potential within the organization who will view the redesign project as an opportunity for professional development.
Characteristics of a Strong Organization Redesign Team
What criteria should guide selection of the members? As the Alignment Leader and change partner assemble their redesign team, they should look for participants with the ability to:
- Communicate effectively, both within the team and with colleagues and managers inside their departments
- Think strategically, experiment, and learn new concepts
- Support others on their team
- See the big picture beyond their own work units and consider issues from many points of view
- Envision new ways of doing work and new organizational structures
- Put the organization’s best interests ahead of their own
- Contribute vital analytical and technical skills
- Be flexible enough to change directions quickly as the environment changes
- Accept group consensus once alternatives had been thoroughly debated
- Express their own opinions and offer new perspectives
The final point above has proven to be increasingly important in recent years. A well-rounded team will include people with varying cultural, educational, and professional skills and backgrounds who represent a good cross-section of the organization outside the C-suite. You don’t just want your team to come up with an answer; you want them to come up with the right answers based on a wide range of perspectives. They will also need to articulate a vision for the future that clarifies how the new organization is going to work for their coworkers.
By carefully constructing a strong organization redesign team with the ability to communicate, bring new ideas to the table, and work together for the good of the organization, you can lay the groundwork to align the rest of the organization to the changes ahead.