Forming Process Improvement Project Teams

I have facilitated many Process Improvement project teams and as a Facilitator it is important to know how to steer things, not only in the right direction, but in the precise direction.
How do you know where to begin as a Team Leader and/or Team Facilitator in choosing the team sitting at the table during your project’s duration? There are a couple of key factors in choosing your project team.

The first team chosen to meet is usually what’s called a preliminary team. It has been my experience that it is best to let the preliminary team members know that they are preliminary. This is because the Mission, Goal or Problem Statement has only been talked about without the necessary specifics, and therefore initially we can only make an educated guess who will be part of the team. Also, in telling the chosen group that they are only preliminary, provides an opportunity for the Team Leader to instill in the group, how important the chosen team members will be to the outcome of the process. This will encourage from the onset, by-in from certain members who may otherwise be opposed to participating in a project team.

A Team Leader, believe it or not, who works closely with their support staff, can have a bias that is difficult for that leader to see, therefore the choosing of at least some of the preliminary team, should include the facilitator of the team as well, so that the facilitator can pose the unbiased and necessary questions regarding a team members’ involvement in a team, based on their ability to deliver necessary information about the process-flow being discussed.

Upon forming the clear and precise Mission, Goal or Problem statement, it becomes very clear who your project team will include. A good facilitator understands how to take a vague statement and build upon that statement, so that it clearly directs how the team needs to move forward, through careful discussion and detailed questions with the Team Leader and possibly other management staff. If the Mission, Goal or Problem Statement is not clearly defined in the beginning of the project, there is a good chance that the team will either stall, loose energy and excitement to finish, and/or fall apart because of lack of clarity of the Mission, Goal or Problem statement.

Also, team members should be informed that they may only be needed temporarily. Due to common cause variation, which is “something that happens within a process all the time” and special cause variation, which is “something that happens rarely or at certain times for certain reasons”, i.e., a seasonal process change, a team member may only be needed for a specific timeframe, to lend their expertise for several meetings, and then be asked to exit the team. Again, this is discussed in the beginning of the process so that expectations are clearly understood and that there is by-in by the members about timely completion of a project from the most experienced and willing team mates.

It is important to be sure that a project team is not only going in the right direction, but is moving with precision and timeliness; With this in mind you must choose your Facilitator wisely. Remember the following:

  1. The preliminary team is more than likely not your final team because your Mission, Goal or Problem statement has likely not been clearly defined yet.
  2. Take the opportunity to encourage how important your members’ involvement in the team is, where ever possible.
  3. Utilize the Facilitator in helping to choose team members so that the choosing is as unbiased as possible, therefore reducing any resentment from team mates.
  4. Consider that there are common cause and special cause variations within processes that may clarify whether a team member is going to be temporary or permanent.
    Utilizing these techniques will ensure the successful formation and maintenance of your Process Improvement project team(s).
    “Cause and effect are two sides of one fact” Ralph Waldo Emerson
    Lisa Scott/Bachelor of Metaphysical Counseling, Certified Advanced Facilitator
    Life/Business Coach

Source – Process Improvement Tools