Once the team's charter has been explained, High Performance Team Concepts have been introduced, the team has received any necessary background briefings, initial brainstorming around the big idea has been conducted, it's time for the team to get organized and plan the team's approach for getting the charter objectives accomplished.
A very effective process for organizing and planning involves the use of 3" x 5" Post-it-notes and a large liquid chalk board (large pieces of paper can be taped to the walls of the meeting room). Each team member is issued a pad of Post-it-notes and a broad tipped pen. The coach provides an overview of the following process and then asks the team members to identify the tasks that the team will have to perform in order to accomplish the charter objectives. Each team member should silently list every task he or she can think of on a separate note. Allow 20 to 25 minutes for this activity. Once everyone has completed their notes, each person in turn goes to the board and sticks their notes on the board, taking a moment to read each note. Team members are encouraged to remain silent during this operation, but are told to create additional notes when someone else's note sparks a new thought about an additional task that needs to be performed.
The next step can be performed during a 30 minute break. Each person approaches the board and attempts moves the notes around into groups that have a similar theme. Team members can work together on this, asking questions about the meaning of specific notes, and suggesting themes for grouping tasks. Duplicates should be placed on top of one another. It is also a good idea to create a boxed-off area for any notes that suggest activities that may be out of the scope of this team's charter. This "Parking Lot" can be revisited from time-to-time as the planning process continues.
Next, the team is asked create a name for each theme. This involves looking at the grouped tasks and trying to come up with a word or phrase to describe each theme. Then the team is asked to determine the natural order of the themes. Some themes will have to be performed before others can occur. Some can, or will have to be performed simultaneously.
The coach then asks for a volunteer to grab a marker pen and write on a flip chart. With the volunteer leading, the team creates a refined list of tasks by theme. It is usually a good idea to ask the team to determine which activities are essential and which are nice to have. Next the team estimates the time needed to perform each essential task. Individuals are asked to volunteer to work on one or more tasks or themes until all themes.
At this point, the work to be performed by the teams has been determined, time-frames for accomplishing each task have been estimated, the order of the tasks have been determined, and volunteers to perform the tasks have been identified. Nearly all the elements for a detailed project plan have been created. It only remains to determine any task dependencies and enter the data into a computerized project planning program.
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