Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Simplifying Complexity - Part 1: Integrating the Large Team

By Steve Jandrell

Integrating the Large Team:

The Challenge of Unplanned Complexity

Large scale projects, whether they are; the result of a business transformation program, technology based, the result of a merger or acquisition, part of a move to a shared services model or the result of an outsourcing arrangement may be characterized by one or more of the following:

• Multiple teams with individual goals
• A blend of employees and consultants
• Independent contractors
• Outsourcing vendor(s)
• Specialty advisors (e.g., legal, audit, tax)
• Trainers
• Different working styles

This is a complex operating environment. Even the best planning can lead to complexity, but when decisions are made at the tactical level, or are incrementally made, this complexity can grow exponentially. The complexity issue has many dimensions, including differing methodologies, performance expectations, operating cultures (even national culture), standards, definitions of team work and success criteria.

The challenge becomes one of integrating potentially disparate groups into one cohesive whole. To achieve this, these questions need to be answered in the affirmative:

- Is there clear, visible and active sponsorship?
- Is the end goal defined in tangible and specific terms for the entire effort?
- Is a leadership structure in place with roles and responsibilities unambiguously defined?
- Has a brand identity been created?
- Is there a detailed program plan with supporting project plans?
- Are milestones and measures built into that program and project plans?
- Is there one overarching set of methods and approaches?
- Have performance standards been set and communicated?
- Have cultural differences been discussed, defined and accounted for in plans?
- Have team based and cross team reward and recognition plans been developed and implemented?
- Is a retention and re-entry plan in place for employees/associates on the program?

Creating commonality of purpose is not a one-off effort. Collective success is the definition of program and project success. It needs to communicated regularly and reinforced by leadership action and example.

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