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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

29 Leading the Team

Everything discussed up to this point is supportive of the manager’s main function, which is leading the organization in accomplishing its strategic objectives. I have discussed several times how implementing the methods discussed eventually frees the manager from daily firefighting activities thereby making time for more strategic work. An organization of highly motivated workers that are trained and empowered to control their processes will conduct the organization’s normal activities with little oversight from the manager. However, accomplishing an organization’s strategic objectives almost always involves doing some things differently or some new things. The success of the organization depends on accomplishing these different or new things successfully. Ensuring that the organization has the highest probability of success in achieving strategic objectives is the responsibility of the leader. In this lecture I describe a process that helps both the leader and the team achieve an objective involving change from normal practices.
The process was developed and widely used by IBM and others in the 1980s. (See the paper by Maurice Hardaker, and Bryan K. Ward, titled How to Make a Team Work in the journal Harvard Business Review, November 1987, page 112) IBM called the methodology Process Quality Management or PQM. It is fundamentally a planning process in which goals, business processes necessary to achieve the goals and measures to track progress toward goals are identified. What sets it apart and contributes to its usefulness is the focus on fundamentals of planning. Recall the Super Bowl metaphor I used earlier to guide you in developing your action plan. PQM follows a similar pattern.
PQM starts with the leader gathering all of his or her direct reports that are involved in achieving the intended goal in a one or two day planning session. If possible hold this session off site and forbid cell phones and PDAs during the session. The team is typically made up of up to a dozen people that are involved in the business processes associated with the goal. Hardaker and Ward advise not including more than a dozen as a larger team gets unwieldy to manage. It is essential to have all involved people in the planning session and allow no observers or hangers on. It is also preferable that someone other than the organization’s leader facilitate the process so that the team is not constrained by the leader’s preconceived beliefs. The following steps are carried out during the planning session:
  1. The leader introduces the goal and explains why the organization must achieve the goal. The objectives are for the team to understand the goal, to convince the team that the goal is necessary and that they all are required to help achieve the goal. Then the facilitator takes over leadership of the process and the organization’s leader becomes a team member.
  2. Brainstorm to identify possible measures of success. Then narrow the identified measures to six to eight that are both necessary and sufficient. These measures are called the critical success factors. One method for narrowing the list is to post the whole list and ask the team to privately rank them in importance. Comparing and discussing the team’s rankings allows the list to be thinned. Work on the list until all team members agree that the remaining measures are the necessary and sufficient measures. That is, if all measures are achieved then the goal will have been achieved and if any measure is not achieved then the goal will not be achieved.  Consensus is required before proceeding to the next step.
  3. Brainstorm to define the business processes that must be carried out to achieve the measures of success. To avoid getting vague and useless descriptions of business processes follow these rules:
    1. A business process is defined as a verb plus object, e.g. design products.
    2. Each process should have an owner who is responsible for managing or carrying out the process.
    3. The owner should be a member of the team.
    4. No owner should have more than four processes to manage or carryout.
    5. Following a similar process used to define the critical success factors develop a list of business processes that are necessary and sufficient to achieve all of the critical success factors. Again consensus is required from the entire team. Expect to have anywhere from 10 to 20 processes. The preferred approach to developing this list is to prepare a relationship matrix as described next.
  4. Prepare a relationship matrix of critical success factors vs. business processes. An example matrix is shown in figure 30. The example has truncated the number of business processes and critical success factors but it illustrates the approach. Start with the first critical success factor and identify every business process that is necessary and sufficient to achieving this success factor. Work through each critical success factor in turn. Now the list of necessary and sufficient business processes is complete. Typically processes are added and deleted during the preparation of the relationship matrix.
  5. Fill out the last two columns in the relationship matrix. These rank the organization’s capability for each process in the column labeled business process quality and count the number of business processes that apply to each critical success factor. The business process quality ranking are made subjectively as A = excellent, B = good, C = fair, D = poor and E is for processes that don’t currently exist or are embryonic and not enough experience is available to rank them.
  6. The counts and business process quality columns assist in allocating resources for changes to business processes. There are rarely available resources to fully fund every desired change in business processes so some prioritization must be made. These columns are used to guide the assignment of resources to each process. Processes that have a high number of counts and rankings of D or E must have adequate resources. Processes that have counts of only two or three and rankings of B or C can be assigned fewer resources. Processes with A rankings and counts of only one or two may need little or no additional resources.
  7. Affirm responsibility for each business process to its owner. The objective is to have every team member agree that they are responsible for one or more business processes and, most important, any necessary changes to the processes. Make sure team members understand their responsibility and know how they are going to approach any necessary changes.
  8. Define and get agreement on a plan to monitor the status of work on the activities and progress on the critical success factors. Depending on how the new work relates to normal work monitoring may occur automatically via existing information systems or it may require special meetings or it may be done as part of normal staff meetings.
  9. If it is not possible to get all team members comfortable with their next steps during the one or two day session then schedule follow up meetings with individual team members that might be needed to clarify details of their new assignment.

Figure 30 A simplified example relationship matrix of business processes vs. critical success factors.
Having a well-developed plan is only the beginning. Carrying out the plan is the real work and success is usually dependent on persistence in this work. It typically takes a year or more to achieve significant goals. If your plan is expected to take more than a year it is wise to review your plan after a year. Conditions may change and any pertinent changes need to be integrated into your plan. If achieving the goal is essential to the success of the organization then it is essential that the organization’s manager lead the team during work on achieving the goal. Don’t delegate this responsibility. Delegate other work to make time for this more important work. Recall the research of Gary Lynn and Richard Reilly cited in lecture 9. Successful developments are three and one-half times as likely to have senior management intensely involved as failed developments.
1.     Review the planning you did for your current efforts toward achieving the strategic objectives for your organization. Did you follow planning fundamentals similar to those outlined in the PQM process?
2.     Do you have a strategic objective or goal for your organization that would benefit from using the PQM process to achieve organizational alignment?
3.     Is your organization in the process of striving toward a major goal and having difficulties making progress? If so consider carrying out a PQM planning session.
4.     Are there barriers that prevent you and your reports from holding a PQM planning session for critical strategic objectives?
5.     What can you do to remove these barriers?

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