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Dealing With Obstacles That Slow Down Team Performance

This is the first in a two-part series: “Obstacles”

Welcome IT Leaders and Teams. Getting Predictable is a blog devoted to helping leaders and teams jointly develop a no-surprise partnership. We do that with best practices that help us identify, understand and overcome the obstacles that prevent teams from being predictable. This is the first of a two-part introduction about the spirit and mission behind this blog.

3639604882_b2b2ef6fc6_mAre You Being Set Up?

Imagine the reaction if you told your CEO the reason your team was late and over budget on his project was because the team was “set up for failure” … that they didn’t have a reasonable chance of being successful.

In my career, I’ve experienced this dreaded feeling more than I care to admit. In fact, I’ve worked with teams that are continually frustrated because they truly, legitimately feel they are being set up for failure. We’ve all been there. Leadership frustration rises because their teams are always missing schedules or are over budget.  To them, the only thing consistent (or predictable) is the team’s lack of predictability and a steady stream of unwelcomed surprises.

Throughout my career, I’ve heard this question from my peers, direct reports and senior executives:  What (or who)  can we change to fix our team?

Get Set Up for Success

I’ve dedicated most of my career to answering this question … to finding ways to help teams get set up for success rather than failure and to achieve a “no surprise” approach to delivering business value.

The truth is, technology teams are very tired of being told they’re late, spending too much money, or missing the boat when it comes to getting the business want it really needs. When something outside of their control changes, they’re tired of fighting physics and trying to stuff 10lbs of work into a 5lb work-week.  You may have a highly talented team that feels like they are in a no-win situation. What a loss of talent!

Many of us have a passion to find these best practices.  Our drive in this area has yielded some very powerful best practices and rich peer-to-peer discussions that have been truly rewarding for me,  my network and my co-workers.  Now, it’s time these practices are shared and some new ones are learned. Along with other contributors, it’s time to engage in conversation as a technology community … hence, this blog. A blog  devoted to identifying and fixing  the obstacles that prevent our teams from producing their very best.

For starters, let’s paint a picture of obstacles.

Suppose you neglected to change the oil in your car. The oil will get thick and sludgy, right? It affects the performance of the car.  At one point, you determine the problem and you change the oil.

In other words,  you effectively remove the obstacle that is holding back the performance of the car. And by simply removing the obstacle, the entire car, and all its parts now hum at a higher RPM.

Identify the Obstacles

This is what we, as leaders, need to do with our teams. We need to identify obstacles. To do that, we need to listen carefully to the obstacles our teams are pointing out. Then, using best practices, we need to help remove the obstacles, ultimately raising the RPM of our teams.

In my next post, I’ll share a way for a team to identify and communicate obstacles. And I’ll share one way I’ve worked with leadership to remove these obstacles and improve overall team performance and success.

Until next week, I’ll leave you with this:


Let the team deliver for you.

One of Management’s most critical roles is to remove obstacles.  If you don’t support your team in removing the obstacles that prevent it from delivering, you are setting your team up for inefficient and unpredictable results.

What about you? Can you think of any obstacles you wish your leadership would remove from your personal day to day processes?

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Category: For Decisionmakers, For Practitioners, Team Performance