The CommitteeManager Blog

From Little Things: How Teams Achieve Big Things

This is Part 2 of a two part series on how teams achieve great things.

You can also read Part 1: Building a Team to Stand the Test of Time.

In the the last post we looked at some tips you can apply day-to-day, week-to-week to ensure your organisation achieves its goals and effects real change on the world.

In this post, we are going to look at some of the long term, big picture strategies to ensure that your team can do amazing things and continue doing them for a long time to come.

Have a Clear, Cohesive Goal and Direction

Any great work requires the combination of a vast number of different skills and perspectives - it's the different skills, life experience and resources that allow a group to accomplish the things that we could not do alone.

As an organisation grows, these different perspectives can introduce new goals and ideas on how to best use the available resources - the strength provided by a variety of opinions begins to become a weakness, with everyone competing for their own pet project or cause.

This isn't just a problem to affect larger organisations. In fact, small organisations can struggle even more with competing goals because the voice of each person, in proportion, tends to have a greater impact.

To counteract this and remain effective an organisation needs a single cohesive set of goals and plans, and needs to work only along those lines.

This doesn't mean you ignore areas outside of your self-imposed mandate; you can still support other organisations, or work with other teams to help bring about wider change. The key point is that a clear direction helps to decide the priority of projects when you have too few resources to achieve everything - simply prioritise the project with the greatest positive impact towards your goals.

Don't Try To Do It Alone

All to often, organisations try, either out of arrogance or inexperience, to take on everything on their own.

Certainly, some amazing works have been accomplished by small groups. However, often this can come at great personal sacrifice in an unsustainable way that reduces the long term impact of their work.

It is always important to remember that there are groups, both locally and internationally, who are doing similar things to what you are trying to do. They may not be doing the exact same things, or in the same circumstances, but they will have tackled many of the same problems before.

If your organisation truly cares about your goals, you must put aside your pride and both help and accept help and education from others.

Not only might you find the problem is easier to solve, but the collaboration may make future problems easier to solve too. Plus, the friendships and relationships you build by collaborating strengthens your community as a whole.

Let People Know Your Accomplishments

If an organisation does great work, and nobody knows, does anybody care?

One of the best ways to improve morale, expand your membership, and keep up the energy to keep doing great things is to let people know about the great things you've already done.

Morale is critical to a team being able to solve big problems: members with low morale won't feel inspired to do their best work, are more likely to cause conflict, or may decide to leave your group entirely. All of these situations undermine the ability for you to do great work, and often make it harder to recruit new members.

Letting people know what you have done also lets people see how they might be able to help or get involved. Often, publicising your achievements can make people realise that your cause is something they would like to be involved with.

Keep Track Of The Impact On Your Community

Speaking of the community, that's an area that many organisations forget when they are working on their projects.

At the end of the day, almost every organisation, group, or project serves a community - that might be your neighbourhood, your country, your company, the environment, or humanity as a whole. Every project you work on, and every decision you make, inevitably has an impact on that community.

Even if you have the best of goals in mind, it's always important to make sure that you find out the actual impact your projects have on your community, and whether that is net positive or net negative.

Also remember that, within your community there are a limited number of resources - money, time, and energy. Be conscious of what you consume from your community, and how much other projects within the community may suffer for it.

Finally, always remember that your decisions are likely to impact how people see and perceive the community you represent. This is never more true than if you act in anger or hatred - even if done accidentally, these types of actions can undermine your community, and your goals.

Reassess Your Goals And Adapt

Nothing stays constant. In fact, most organisations exist explicitly to effect change and improve their community. Therefore, it is essential that organisations periodically re-assess their goals and adapt to the changing circumstances.

Adaptation can come in several different flavours, depending on the situation.

Perhaps the problems you are trying to solve have a deeper root cause, and this would be a better focus for your attentions?

Perhaps your goals are too broad, or the issue is so large that you are unable to really effect any change on it yet. Maybe your organisation needs to reduce its scope to focus on more acute issues. Perhaps your organisation can do better work as two organisations? Or merged with another?

Perhaps you have solved all the issues you set out to achieve and your organisation is becoming irrelevant, or idle? Is it time to wind up? Take on new challenges? Merge with another organisation?

Whatever the situation, your team will become less effective if you try to keep doing the same thing forever without changing and adapting.

Next Steps

By keeping the long term, big picture goals in mind, any size team can work together to achieve amazing things.

But the real secret to this success is being able to share a concise cohesive vision between all your members, and making concrete progress in that direction.

So, what concrete actions can you take to make sure your group is on the right track? Consider the following action items:

  • Do you have a written charter or vision statement? Do all your members know about it? What about your community? Work to publish one.
  • Review all your current projects to see how well they match with your vision and goals.
  • Build a list of the other groups and organisations working in similar fields to you, or in different fields in the same location. Are there any opportunities to work together or meet socially?
  • When was the last time your group published information to your community about your activities and achievements? If you are a community organisation, local newspapers and magazines would often love to write a short piece on you. If you are working within an company or larger organisation, prepare a report that can be distributed among your colleagues.
  • What statistics and indicators from your community can tell you that you're achieving your goals? Are you tracking these? When was the last time you looked at them. Consider reviewing these and the impact each of your projects have on them. Schedule time to periodically review this information.
  • Work with all your members to review your team's goals, and how the world has changed since you set those goals and plans in action. Schedule a periodic review of this, perhaps yearly or quarterly.

How can you clearly communicate your goals and objectives to your team?

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Welcome to the CommitteeManager blog

We are a team committed to helping people work together efficiently and productively.

So much of our lives are spent working with teams and committees; meetings, group emails, conference calls and project planning sessions. But most teams struggle to get the best out of their members due to a lack of organisation and a lack of focus.

This blog has been set up to provide helpful, practical advice on getting the most out of your meetings and groups. We will be covering topics ranging from efficiency tips, new ideas you may want to explore, to long term strategic planning.

When we're not helping provide tips and tricks about efficiency, we build CommitteeManager, an online application that can revolutionise the management of your board, committee and project team obligations.

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