Guiding Teams to Outcomes


You work in an organization that sets some high-level goals. Your team might be accountable for some of those goals. However, to hit the goals, you’ll need cooperation from groups outside of your team.

What do you do? How do you get everyone on the path to finishing the shared outcomes?

Situations like this happen a lot. Some ideas:

  • Make sure the path is clearly marked.
  • Make it easy for people to stay on the path.
  • Make it hard for people to go off the path.
  • Be the voice of encouragement.
  • Be the voice of recognition.
  • Assume people want to be on the path, but they might also be busy with other problems.

Managing “friction” can be a useful technique in getting everyone working toward the goals. Try to reduce friction on anything that positively affects getting to the outcomes, but add friction to those things that are negative.

  • Centralize documentation for checklist processes. Better yet, automate as many of the steps as possible. Even better might be to add the manual steps to your automated steps so you only have one true list.
  • Do more checks in your continuous integration (CI) system, especially adding automated tests (unit, integration and performance). Stop regressions ASAP.
  • Make sure the output of your process is being measured and is clearly visible to everyone. Put up monitors with charts and graphs in your open office spaces. Showing progress and trends helps to reinforce the importance of everyone’s role in hitting goals.
  • Add anomaly detection to the measurement data. Don’t count on people to find the problems in real-time.
  • Don’t be surprised if you need to keep repeating the plan.

Also published on Medium.

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