Martha's Dare inspiring you to achieve your dreams

Get Things Done

Last year I used the best team focusing tool I have seen in my 13 year career. The material that guided the exercise is from the Getting Things Done course at Rotman MBA. As a result of the exercise, my team became a super team. They committed to shared goals and then together found ways to leverage each others expertise, fill in gaps for one another, and use the objectives to lead the broader organization through challenges and change. This is how we did it:

My team had just gone through a 50% turnover, we had two open roles, and overall felt defeated and deflated. We were two months into the fiscal year, and I needed something that would energize us and shift our perspective to ensure we would accomplish our objectives for the year. So we got together face to face and did the following exercise.

Step 1: Prepare
I outlined four areas of focus for our organization that aligned with my leaderships goals (for example: Innovation and Customer Satisfaction). I asked everyone to prepare a list of objectives, measures, and outcomes they thought our organization should consider for the year. They were asked write them out in detail so that they were prepared to share them with the group. I gave them three weeks to do the prep, with a handout.

Step 2: Share
We got together in San Jose, California and took the first morning to get to know one another. Many of us had worked together remotely for years but had never met face to face. I used a couple instant challenges from DestiNation ImagiNation to get the group laughing, critically thinking, and working together. Once relaxed, everyone got out their homework and one by one we shared the objectives we thought we should take on as a team and why. This was a conversation. We asked questions, we discussed the target, we challenged the alignment to the organization’s goal. Each person took a turn, and as we shared, we captured the idea in a master spreadsheet, merging goals, when appropriate.

Step 3: Prioritize
Next, we stood back and looked at our complete list. We discussed and debated it. We used a tool called dots to prioritize the list. We wrote out the 15 or so goals we had identified and then each person got five dots to select their top five. The result were clusters of dots around the key objectives for the team.

Step 4: Commit
The last step was to refine the top selections and commit to make them happen. We chose four business objectives, and one team goal. The team goal was about how we were committing to operate. We decided we wanted to be leaders, not victims. We decided that we would show our leadership through our approach to how we accomplished our desired business outcomes. To finish off the day, each person took a turn to share how they would contribute to the team objectives and the next step they would take in that journey. This included how they would contribute to objectives outside their area of expertise.

The team made a commitment as a team to accomplish four business objectives, together. The result was awesome. My team stepped in to fill gaps for each other, they took on new roles that leveraged their expertise in order to move us ahead. Throughout the process we kept each other in check to make sure we were being leaders, not victims and that as a team were doing everything possible to contribute to the desired business outcome. We accomplished more in one quarter than we thought possible.

Final take-away. When you are VERY clear on your business objectives, nothing is personal. Decisions are made to support your desired outcomes, resources are assigned to contribute to the goals at hand, and everyone knows where to focus. I highly recommend using this process for fiscal year planning, to get your team laser focused on the task at hand, and to guide cross functional decision making.

About Martha van Berkel

Martha is the co-founder of Marketing Technology company - Hunch Manifest. She likes to fire up customer adoption and disrupting industries! She is a entrepreneur and a Mom!

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