Thursday, March 18, 2010

Looking forward, not backward

I was reading a piece of advice in Men’s Fitness magazine. It went something like ‘get rid of those stored phone numbers of your ex-girlfriends and move on’. That’s great advice I suppose, but I couldn’t help but think of its parallel to consulting. We consultants can tend to drag around a long list of hopeful clients and projects. When they fail to materialize “on time”, as many are prone to do, of course, we keep in touch with the client to see if/when the timing may be better. However, after a while, and especially after long periods of silence, it may be time to mentally and physically remove that project from the realm of real possibilities by scratching it off your list.

“Long” in this context will be defined by various factors including how much your list is growing with new activity, what a normal sales cycle has been like for you, as well as the effects on your temperament of looking at that client name on your list and just knowing nothing is going to come of it. That can be demoralizing. However, if you’re filling the pipeline, you’re not concerned with these ex-prospects.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Forming – Storming – Norming – Performing

For those of you with teams on the ground at client sites, permit me to share some group development-think that has inspired me and given me a basis for effectively moving my teams to higher levels of maturity and performance. I first learned about the Bruce Tuckman Forming – Storming – Norming – Performing model in MBA school, but as with many things we learned in school, it is easy to forget or believe there is no applicability to it.

However, I recently used the model as a touchstone for a team’s development and, at the least, it helped to assure me that some of the early-stage team “forming” actions involving feelings, insecurities and other such controversies are NORMAL. The model also helped me see where the team can go, if things are handled properly. I recalled all the teams I’ve brought together over the years for client work and, by placing our team development against the model, it proved to be a roadmap we’ve followed, even if unconsciously.

So why not follow it consciously? I’m going to keep it handy. Moving onward into the mature stage of performing takes mutual trust, respect, lots of communication and having all members treat team decisions AS THEIR OWN. So, whether you’re forming, storming or norming, pretty soon you can be PERFORMING.

As the model says, and my experience bears out, each team MUST go through each stage. No skipping! So be patient and guide your teams to solid foundations at each stage, all the way to Performing.

Here is the Wikipedia entry for “Forming – Storming – Norming – Performing.”