A necessary team prep before kick start the project.

Hello to all of you, I’ve written several articles about the process, framework, or techniques about creating innovation with a few drops of my experiences previously. The most important driver to make a real progress using those strategy forward is “PEOPLE” in your team, in your startup,OR in your organization!! This article is to share my experience and important elements considering to build and manage a team.

In this context, it is related to manage an ad-hoc team in B2B organization to drive a new business seed to the market with a given timeframe and budget. Nevertheless, I believe the core of managing the team I will talk about can be almost applied to any types of team.

I am responsible for corporate innovation in my company and participated myself recently. I had an opportunity to move up the idea seed forward to the next phase with my team members. Now, since the mission of the next phase is to validate the PMF (product market fit) which requires more effort, more understanding to drive the project as well as the strengths in each member’s expertise. To grasp clear vision from “PEOPLE” with passionate mindset is crucial.

Preps before kickstart the project

1. Understands the your team with comprehensive team building

To kickstart the team mission, we first ran a mini team building with few exercises.

  • True motivation from “5-Whys Individual” — To crack the intrinsic motivation out is truly meaningful to understand why each member is willing to participate in the project. It helps other team member or even you yourself to dig deeper of your “WHY-motivation” as you proceed this exercise. It’s simple just keep asking “WHY” 5 times and works well without consuming the time. I discovered interesting aspect of the other team members and vice versa. Because of work from home, you could not gather to write down the post-it, we picked a google jamboard to do this exercise. (Not perfect like Miro or Mural, but it went fine.)
  • Tune in the team’s workstyle with My user manual” — Borrowing the Atlassian team playbook , the user manual brings out the preferences of workstyles with a soft touch on the personality for the team to learn-adjust-sync the workstyles. Sometimes the small preference like “For me, I prefer quick zoom call i/o text chat if any ad-hoc discussion is required” OR “Pick any slot in my calendar during 10:00–17:00 hrs. although I rarely respond the RSVP but I will attend”, These kind of small hints will help drive the speed of the team without feeling fear to do so because thinking it will disturb that member, especially we’re in the pandemic, shifting from physical work at the office to remote work at home. This exercise helps a lot.
  • Driving clear goal with “5-Whys Team” Starting with same of the 1st question for all team members about the problem statement of your idea concept. Then each member individually works on asking WHY for 5 times and share. This helps polish the clear objective for what pain we solve and value we will bring to our user, or to that target market.

2. Empower the team to collaborate on business planning process and define the role

  • Lean canvas — Instead of Sales or Marketing team member, it’s strongly recommend to include other like engineer lead to join this exercise. It helps input the business aspect to their mindset e.g. risk of deliver value to customer, or risk of sales channel. The canvas display all key activities in each box. Answering all will guide you the direction to perform, sometimes the uncertainty of some boxes are discovered during the exercise, which is good to detect and work on those risks with a proper prioritization. You can try visit https://leanstack.com/lean-canvas for the template to run this with your team.
  • Role and responsibility — (Skip this if your team has enough resources for doing each key roles of the project). Due to it’s an ad-hoc project with less than 5 members, there will be several tasks to take care than the basic role like “engineer” or “marketing”. The pop up roles possibly concern like administrative matter e.g. legal-check, budget control or scheduling. This is another exercise picked up from Atlassian team playbook to list up all the roles, tasks to assign or make consensus of the gray zone of who should handle it.

After starting the project, encounter unexpected things.

I’m 100% affirmative you and your team will encounter unexpected thing along the way although how well you try to plan your move. This is normal and you should be flexible to accept those matter. Below is a good drawing of the journey of creating new business.
Therefore above exercise we’ve done during the preps help us overcome it. Re-visit the team’s motivation from “5-WHYs” to reassure the team commitment and activeness towards project accomplishment.

Paul Graham via AVC
  1. Schedule regularly “daily” or “weekly” is depending on your team to discuss the status of each task, backlogs.
  2. Know the time to push the speed or pull the break — Encourage to keep calm during the tough period or Empower to accelerate the progress.
  3. Track milestones while performing the small tasks.
  4. Monitor the emotional part cannot be neglected.

The wrap-up for leading the cross-functional team requires strong leadership to empower and manage the members. Don’t forget to understand your “PEOPLE” in your team besides the focus on the “user-side”. I hope some tips and experience I shared about team buildings will help your team collaborate and perform well.

Business development at HENNGE K.K.,Japan / Former Logistics senior specialist at Toyota APAC HQ, Thailand / Cafe-exploring and illustration is my hobby.

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