Home > Dr.
Greg > Articles >
The New Team Process:
Efficiency as a Strategic Advantage
Gregory A. Ketchum, Ph.D. & Jacques Mulder,
In order to compete successfully in a world economy,
American companies need to be very creative and
innovative in the creation and delivery of new
products and services. Standing still is not an
option nor is doing the same old things over and
over. Partnering with customers to create better
solutions than they can devise on their own and
developing solutions that customers don’t
yet know they need is one very clear way of gaining
a strategic advantage over competitors.
How does an organization then move itself from
being “one of the pack” to becoming
an innovative leader? Doubtless there are many
paths, but only one ingredient that is a fundamental
and necessary component of any effort to boost
creativity and innovation: efficiency. The American
Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth
edition defines efficiency as…
“…Acting or producing effectively
with a minimum of waste, expense, or unnecessary
effort” or “Exhibiting a high ratio
of output to input.”
The major payoff and goal of increased efficiency
is the ability to free up time that can then be
dedicated to planning, strategy and creative innovation.
Most organizations spend the bulk of their time,
much of it wasted, running current operations
and devote little or no time to planning and strategy.
Having the time available for these activities
can not only lead to the creation of new products,
services and ways of partnering with clients,
but also can lead to even higher efficiency for
Efficiency in Action
In what ways must an organization become more
efficient in order to create time for planning
and strategy? Here are just a few.
- Leadership: The leaders
must be clear on the mission and vision of their
organization as well as on their purpose as
a leadership team apart from their functional
- Teams: In like fashion,
all teams must be clear on their missions and
must work from the same “team process”
- Communication: This is the
life-blood of any organization and must be free
flowing, timely, and focused, both within the
organization and between it and it’s customers.
- Trust: Without a high level
of trust within an organization, information
is withheld, teamwork is impaired and all areas
are negatively impacted. Without a high trust
level between an organization and it’s
customers “partnering” to find new
and better solutions is not possible.
Poor communication, weak teamwork, lack of role
clarity and low trust are all “efficiency
busters.” Some of these factors are most
often looked at as “soft” skills and
as “nice to have,” but not really
necessary. For the organization that wants to
be a leader in their field these factors are as
necessary and as “hard” as they get.
How does a company start the process of transforming
itself into a high efficiency organization capable
of delivering excellent results for it’s
current business while at the same time increasing
it’s capacity to innovate and create new
solutions? How does it drive efficiencies in order
to create the time for planning & strategy?
Here are some suggested steps.
- Leadership Team: Start by
engaging a facilitator/team coach to work with
the leadership team on improving the team process.
Have the coach facilitate an off-site team meeting
focused on both improving team process and solving
current business challenges. Today’s leadership
teams face more work than they can accomplish.
For leadership teams to be successful they must
be clear on their function, set the vision,
mission, values and strategy for the organization
and identify and manage issues, as opposed to
resolving all issues themselves. As a result,
the need for effective facilitated team meetings
is critical as is a clear process for small
“working group” involvement in tackling
issues. The goal is to create a high-performance
team that spends less time in the details and
more time in planning and strategy for future
- Individual Role Clarity:
The coach will work with each member of the
leadership team on boosting role efficiency.
Critical elements include clarity of purpose,
priority setting, time management, delegation
and setting clear expectations with accountability.
A major goal will be to free up time for the
executive to be forward focused on planning,
strategy, creating new solutions and building
stronger partnerships with clients.
- Building Leadership Skills:
An inventory of required leadership skills will
be created and each leadership team member will
be assessed against that inventory. Areas of
leadership development will be identified along
with a plan for acquiring the needed skills.
- Improvement Throughout the Organization:
The coach will work with the leadership team
to develop a strategy to take the team process
and role effectiveness models throughout all
levels of the organization.
- Improving Trust & Communication:
A strategy for boosting trust and communication
will be put in place across the organization.
Boosting Morale: The Success
As efficiency and productivity increase more time
is available for planning and strategy for seizing
the future. Efficiency and productivity are two
of the best morale boosters an organization can
have. As people feel more effective and productive,
job satisfaction, morale and motivation are improved,
which in turn leads to higher efficiency.
TheTeam Process Model: The model
for high-performance, high efficiency teamwork
- Facilitated meetings to insure the team stays
on track, decisions are made, and issues are
driven to resolution, commitments and action
- Concise agenda prepared by a rotating working
group from the team
- Focus on high-level identification and management
of issues, not an attempt to resolve all issues,
with cross-functional, multi-level working groups
formed to take issues identified by the team,
address them and resolve or make recommendations
back to the team.
- Monthly team phone conferences to follow-up
on action items from the team meeting and focus
on team process development.
- Training in facilitation, team meeting management,
presentation, negotiation, and decision making
- Clarification of team vision, mission and
values/standards and driving these throughout
- Clarity of expectations along with high freedom
within defined roles with high accountability
- Liberal use of “parking lot” in
team meetings for issues for future resolution
with assignments made to working groups.
- Ongoing focus on team development with leadership
team driving efficiency and high performance
standards throughout the organization..
The Role Effectiveness
The model for high-performance within a role includes…
- Clarity of purpose of role along with close
alignment with vision and mission of the organization.
- Clarity on priorities of role along with appropriate
allocation of time.
- Delegation of “non-core” responsibilities
along with setting clear expectations and accountability
- Weekly time dedicated to planning, strategy
and development of new product & service
offerings and building partnerships with customers
and across the organization, where indicated.
- Use of the team process model with their
- Use of delegation as development tool for
next level staff
- Clarity on role of leader/manager as opposed