Monthly Archives: January 2015

Fixing Teams That Don’t Work

Ever seen a plan that did not get executed because the team of implementors is dysfunctional? Well, it happens.

There are various tools that can be used to assess teams of people or individuals. These tools can help identify team dynamics that are holding back implementation of a strategy. Here is a summary of some tools that might help you. Credit for this should go to my expert colleagues, Greg and Anne.


This assesses people’s areas of interest and their organizational focus. For each member of a team, it can identify what they like to contribute to the team’s work, and what they need from the rest of the team to work most effectively. Birkman can be used to identify imbalances in the makeup of a team, and to identify causes of possible breakdowns in team working. It looks at a person’s preferences in the subjects of esteem, acceptance, structure, authority, advantage, activity, challenge, empathy, change, freedom and thought.

BPMT (Building Powerful Ministry Teams)

This is a team assessment tool based upon “The Performance Factor: Unlocking the Secrets of Teamwork“. This tool helps a team self assess six different aspects of team working (common purpose, clear roles, accepted leadership, effective processes, solid relationships and excellent communication). Teams can then see which aspects of team working are failing, and take steps to address them.


Stengthsfinder identifies the top 5 strengths that a person has out of a list of 34 possible strengths. This helps people determine what aspects of work they like the most. Teams can then use this information to help allocate tasks to play to the strengths and preferred working styles of their members. Hopefully this will save you allocating a detailed analysis task to someone who’s strength is blue sky thinking! One advantage of this tool is that it is positive – it focuses on strengths rather than weaknesses, so it create little negative conflict.

7Fs Personal Life Assessment

A simple self test that anyone can take to see if they have an appropriate life balance. This might help you identify people who are burned out because their overall life is out of whack. The assessee grades the strength of faith, fellowship, family, friendship, financial, fitness and fun in their life.

Job Description

Does everyone working on your project have a job description, and are they working according to it? This maybe a little obvious, but it maybe worth reviewing!! If there are no job descriptions, maybe that is a source of team conflict.

360 Review

This is a simple assessment that allows team members to see how they really perform in the eyes of their peers, supervisor and subordinates. This tests the team’s strengths and weaknesses in a more objective manner than self evaluation. Only use it with relatively self-confident people or people who really are not self-aware of major issues.


This is an assessment of the ability to succeed for individuals in a team. The complete explanation of the psychology behind the test is in the book The EQ Edge. EQ-i starts with creating self understanding, and then self regard, with the hope that it can help with other’s perceptions of team members. It grades self-perception, self-expression, interpersonal communication, decision making and stress management. This assessment tool can identify character and communication issues in team members that have been hindering a team’s ability to execute a strategy. If someone has some real issues, then assess them annually to cover those issues. If they do not have stand-out issues, then there is no need to assess them every year.

EQ-i 360

This is good for team members who have real blind spots that are bringing down a team’s ability to execute their plan. This uses the same assessment questions as EQ-i (above), but a person’s manager, peers, direct reports, family / friends and other people answer the questions as well as the person being assessed. You would certainly want to use it when you see EQ-i results that really don’t match up with your experience. When looking for work performance in a team, count the manager’s view with greater importance than the results of the other reviewers. When looking for character issues, count a team leader’s direct reports with greater importance than that of other reviewers. This tool could also be used with people who are doing well, but want to do better still.

Lean Management and Strategic Leadership

Lean management and strategic leadership are irrevocably interrelated.

McKinsey defines Lean Management as having four disciplines:

  • delivering value efficiently to the customer
  • enabling people to lead and contribute to their fullest potential
  • discovering better ways of working
  • connecting strategy, goals, and meaningful purpose

We define Strategic Leadership as:

  • Strategic leadership engages people in creative thinking, planning and execution to most effectively accomplish the vision.

In these two definitions

  • “delivering value efficiently” relates to “most effective accomplishment…”
  • “enabling people to lead and contribute” relates to “engaging people”
  • “discovering better ways” relates to “creative thinking, planning and execution”
  • “connecting strategy, goals and meaningful purpose” relates to “execution to … accomplish the vision”

I know that we did not have this correlation in mind when we defined strategic leadership, but the parallels impress me. This tells me that if we want strategic leadership, we can learn a lot from those who area teaching and leading lean management.

As we start our planning cycle for the year, a couple of things that really stand out to me from lean management are:

  • planning is devolved to the front line, not Area, National and Team leaders
  • better ways of doing things are discussed, rather than extending our work from last year’s practices

I recommend the following further reading on lean management:

McKinsey’s Insight introduction article to lean management

McKinsey’s detailed paper on lean management

The Logical Framework

Have you ever executed a plan, only to find that you did not accomplish your original goal?

The Logical Framework is a tool that will help ensure that the plan you execute causes you to deliver the outcomes needed to achieve the purpose you want that means you accomplish the goal you desire. The idea is that you link the things you do directly to the desired goal through a logical thought process.

In the Logical Framework you define success measures, verification method and assumptions behind each of the planned actions (the model calls these “Inputs“), “Outcomes” of executing the plan, the “Purpose” behind wanting those outcomes, and the end “Goal” you want to achieve.

The core of the Logical Framework is the “temporal logic model” that runs through the matrix. This takes the form of a series of connected propositions:

  • If these Inputs are implemented, and these Assumptions hold, then these Outcomes will be delivered.
  • If these Outcomes are delivered, and these Assumptions hold, then this Purpose will be achieved.
  • If this Purpose is achieved, and these Assumptions hold, then this Goal will be achieved.

This tool was developed by the US Aid government department to ensure that the ultimate outcomes of delivering humanitarian aid to a country were achieved as a result of the aid program. Basically, this is a reinforced outcome based approach to project planning.

For all of the detail, have a look at the following:

The Logical Framework, A Manager’s Guide