In professional hockey, teams have a General Manager (GM) and a Coach charged with one mission - put a team on the ice that is both capable and driven to deliver a truly exceptional outcome - the Stanley Cup. Every factor must be considered individually and then again as a whole, to arrive at a perfect mix of talent that can produce under a variety of possible future scenarios. Strategies are selected, trade-offs are made, deals are cut - and when it comes time to deliver, the outcome is broadcast live on national TV.
In contrast, we often take a vanilla “resource management” approach to putting our project teams together. Too often the project manager is dealing with seemingly interchangeable “resource types”, drawn from a pool, putting names in boxes on a project plan to reach a resourcing milestone and keep things on track. The whole process is sterile and misses the key point that every GM and coach knows intuitively - the way the team works together is more important than their individual capabilities. Exceptional outcomes require exceptional teamwork - a product of good team selection and great coaching that aligns everyone to the goal.
So how can we improve the approach and get the rock-star team and the exceptional results we all want? In my experience putting together dozens of teams with hundreds of people over the years, there are 4 key ingredients.
For some of you, this topic may seem a little “squishy”, like an luxury when we’ve got projects to execute. If you’re feeling that way, I ask you to think about the best project team you’ve ever been part of - the one that was the most energized, committed, and capable, and delivered results beyond expectations. Ask yourself, how did that particular group come together? What was it about the dynamics that made it so special? Was it just random luck that put that group of people together for that project? Or was there a GM and a coach at work helping create the conditions for success?
Go build a rock-star team. Exceptional results are so much more fun.