The ability of a team to execute is based on a number of things. A few of them include team trust, focusing on the right issues and the ability to come up with solutions to problems.
There is an Aesop fable that I have told many times in workshops. I love it. If you are kicking off a project it is a great teamwork story to start with. It demonstrates what can simply go wrong in team execution.
Teamwork Story – Team Execution
Once upon a time, the only thing that stood between complete happiness and a house full of mice was a big and mean old cat.
One night the mice got together and decided to do some brainstorming. They asked “How can we deal with the danger of the cat?” They voted on one brilliant idea that was proposed.
They would hang a bell around the cat’s neck. Wherever the cat would go, the bell would warn them of danger if got too close.
Each of the mice jumped and clapped in approval at the brilliant idea. That was until one mouse asked, “Now who is going to hang the bell around the cats neck?” There was complete silence.
This teamwork story illustrates that it can be easy to come up with brilliant ideas. However, it isn’t always so easy to execute them.
The following four tips and suggestions are simple. However, my experience as a consultant for a number of years tells me that they aren’t used very often by leaders. Hence the reason for poor team execution.
1. Assign an owner to the task(s). Someone has to take ownership for hanging the bell. If there is no owner, the bell won’t get hung. This was the case in the fable.
2. Assign due dates to each task. Without a due date the task won’t be a priority. And by the time you get to completing the task, the cat might have had her fair share of mice by then.
3. Be clear. It is important to ensure that everyone is clear on the task. Check for clarity once the task has been assigned. Lack of clarity can result in putting both the team and the individual responsible for the task in more danger; such as putting the bell around the cat’s foot instead of her neck.
4. Follow up. How will you know if the bell has been hung? Require that the one assigned to the task returns and reports on his assignment. To not do so can again put the individual and team in danger.
What additional tips do you have for ensuring the bell gets hung? What barriers have you seen in team execution? We love comments. Please comment below. Thanks!
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