Minahan Group
Organization Strategy & Design


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Teams + Work

The following is adapted from a strategic direction project which relied heavily upon successful teams.

Elements of Team Efforts in Major Change Programs

Successful implementation of major change programs will be heavily dependent on effective teams. Elements to be considered in developing a major change program such as Team+work plan are interdependent with many other design elements and each other and consequently difficult to sequence. Following are the basic elements, unsequenced. They may be combined in a variety of ways with some being implemented as part of other efforts. Linkages for possible combination are noted.

Team Definition

There will be different kinds of teams in the evolving client system during a major change program. The names will be familiar but operating will differ. Country teams will function under the leadership of a country director and a core country management unit. This core team will also include key sector specialists needed to deliver the country's program as outlined in the country strategy. There may also be a second wider country team for connection and information that will include task team leaders and all those deeply involved in the country's program.

Task teams will continue under the direction of program team leaders with broader responsibility for clusters of related tasks being shared among team members. Ideally, one team supplementing its resources as needed would assume responsibility for a task cluster. The teams will most likely include all the special skills needed to deliver both the technical task itself and the project processing. These teams will include contracted specialists as well as administrative staff to support task processing.

The work to be done includes a complete and clear definition of the teams, their membership, accountabilities for tasks, individual accountability in the teamwork frame and leadership requirements. The following questions need answering:

  • What are the region's needs for uniformity across teams? Is there a preferred protocol?

  • How are team members chosen and contracted? Who is contracted and who is not?

  • How many teams may a specialist expect to be involved with?

  • How much time does a task team/country team take?

  • What can a task assistant expect? How many teams will he/she support? How will the country task support differ from task team support?

  • How will task continuity be assured and how long should a team member expect to be associated with a particular effort?

  • Team size?

  • What will be team roles and individual responsibilities for tasks and for leadership?

  • How will a task team leader differ from today's task manager?

  • When are teams the appropriate modality? Is there some work that could be done by groups which don't require the same depth of

  • Commitment and continuity?

  • How do people enter and depart from existing teams? Linkages to this element: Contracting, CMU, SMU planning, administrative support staff?

Team Process and Preparation

The purpose of using teams to do work is to create synergies that serve clients better than individual contributors might, to improve continuity, to build individual capacity, to improve product quality and to provide work opportunities that are interesting and satisfying to staff. High performing teams can deliver these benefits but the mere creation of teams does not assure high performance.

The work of this group is to determine what teams need to be high performance and in so far as possible, facilitate meeting those needs. Issues to address include:

  • Acceptance, preparation and delivery of a common team building/chartering experience for teams within the region. The team preparation opportunities should be sufficiently modular to address the differing needs of teams in the region and include both the team process aspects and the more task oriented goal/objective setting and planning elements. (Drexler-Sibbett)

  • Identify the teams likely to need that kind of support first and pilot.

  • Determine which bank wide work is likely to affect the functioning of teams and integrate that work with Team+work efforts; i.e. performance standards, scorecards at the level of the teams, incentives for teams, performance evaluation processes for teams and team players, 360 feedback.

  • Linkages: administrative support staff, HR Teams efforts, values

Support Systems for Teams

High performing teams need strong linkages and support from the enterprise to assure that communications stay open and that the infrastructure is an enabler rather than an impediment to performance. The location of country teams in field sites rather than in Washington creates some unique challenges for the change effort in this area.

The work of this group would include:

  • Identification of communication deficits, both technical and interpersonal. Who needs to know what about what for work to be done effectively? What are the problems today and what might then be anticipated, given what we know about future operations? What needs to be done to close these gaps?

  • New Technology - can newer technologies such as Lotus Teamroom or others be used to connect teams split by physical distance?

  • What are the unique teamwork problems caused by distance/virtual teaming both for today and the future of the organization

  • Teams are accountable for delivery of their outcomes within a budget envelope, which means they need resource information that is clear, accessible and current. Do today's resource information systems support team accountabilities and if not, how do they need to be different?

  • How do evolving efforts in resource management, time reporting and other systems affect team efforts and how do we need to respond?

  • Linkages: Resource Management task force, contracting, scorecard

Building Individual Team Members

Team members need skills beyond team membership. Each team member will bring personal competencies and undeveloped areas to the team that will both enhance and detract from team functioning. Raising the skill levels of team members in certain key areas will improve overall performance of the team. Some individuals will need this kind of training, others will not. The work of this group would include:

  • A quick and dirty skills assessment in skill areas that support effective team membership.

  • Facilitate availability of specialized training that could either be incorporated into team preparation or made available to individuals in bite-sized increments. Partner with LLC for assessment and training delivery.

  • Skills might include such things as planning and organizing, negotiation, feedback and straight talk, conflict resolution or even some technical training or knowledge management skills.

  • Linkages: Values, LLC team training, HR team task force, 11-17


Since teams are not generally new to most organizations, but are likely operating in different modes across the organization, it is feasible and makes sense to test out any new ways of operating with existing or new start teams in advance of implementation. These experiments will provide insight and opportunities to fine tune teamwork thinking in the region. The intention is to pilot representative task and country teams incorporating as many of the teamwork elements planned for the region as possible. The work of this group would include:

  • Identification of potential pilot teams and their leaders

  • Formalization of a pilots process with clear goals and evaluation criteria

  • Implementation of the process with the pilot teams including preparation, technology support and team chartering and kickoff.

  • Linkages: CMU, SMU, administrative support, HR team taskforce