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code of conduct
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Teambuilding: Why Project Teams Fail
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Ever been on a project team that failed in its efforts. Knowing the reasons for project failure can allow team leaders and members to work proactively to keep them from occurring. I have over 20 years of successful senior leadership and entrepreneurial experiences in health care and knowing the causes of failure has helped to minimize their occurrences in my history. Good teambuilding and team management are essential skills for the developed leader. Below is a narrative that discusses the reasons for failure of a project.

Elliott had just concluded his second team meeting on controlling costs of the hospital's total joint patients. The team had been formed to control costs while preserving quality. Today he presented the elements of a good team charter. The other team members had left and I thought it would be good to debrief him.

"That was a good meeting, Elliott," I said.

"Thanks, but I felt a bit shaky."

"Well, it didn't show," I said. "You presented all the parts, there was good team dialogue and interest, and you managed the meeting well. It never got out of hand."

He nodded. "I hope that this team is successful. I don't want to make any mistakes."

"You won't I said. You are sincere in your efforts and that is important."

Again he nodded. "But what are some of the reasons that a project team would fail? I mean if I know some of them, then maybe I can prevent them from happening."

"Good point," I said. "I will tell you if you have a moment."

Elliot sat down, opened up a notebook, and took out a pen. "I am all ears, Boss."

"There are basically five reasons that a project team is going to fail," I said.

Elliott began writing.

"The first is poor team dynamics. Sometimes you will get a group together that doesn't mesh. If that happens, you are destined for failure."

Elliott looked up, "That's why you need to be carefully selecting your team and lay the groundwork with a good code of conduct."

"Yes," I said, "but even still, bad dynamics usually means bad dynamics."

He nodded and continued to write.

"Another reason," I said is scope creep. That's where the team goes out of boundaries and it tries to be too expansive."

He continued to write and said, "That's why I have to keep them focused."

I nodded. "The next reason for team project failures is poor or no root causation. Now root causation is an entire discussion for another day, but basically it is no identifiable reasons for the team to fix."

"You can't fix what you can't find is broken," Elliott said.

"Yes, basically," I responded. "The next reason for project failure would be having a poor or no team champion involvement. We know you are on the team, so we can cross that one off this list."

"Thanks, Boss," Elliott laughed.

"I know it sounded funny," I said, "but I mean it."

Elliott nodded. He hinted at a smile.

"The last reason for team failure," I continued, "would be an inability to get team member buy-in. That sort of sounds like the first one, but it really relates to having sincere input from your team."

Elliott finished writing. "So, let me read them back to you so I can be sure I got them. A project team will fail if their are poor dynamics, scope creep, no root causation, no champion involvement, or if there is failure to get team buy-in."

"Exactly," I said. "And remember we already got rid of the no team champion one, so your odds of success have improved already." I snorted a laugh in case he missed my attempt at humor.

"Oh, I already crossed that one off," he laughed back.

"Good. Again, good meeting today."

"Thanks," he responded. "No trouble," I said. "And if there are no further questions, I am off to..."

"Another meeting?" he injected.

"No," I answered. "Lunch. Do you want to come?"

"Sure thing, Boss. I am hungry," and we left together.

Thanks for reading.


Street Talk

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  about 1 decade ago
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