And Sports, One-On-One
On The High Seas
Develop Formula For Multinational Teamwork
Statistics For Full-Time Results
Wanted: Must Be Team Player, Success Minded
by Peter Block
Change Key To Org. Change
by Cathy Kramer
Business News Briefs
for a Change
On The High Seas
Norwegian Off-Shore Rig Floats Innovative Team Measuremtn
In the North Sea, far from the shores of Norway, you may
be surprised to discover the twinkling lights of a man-made island housing
3,000 workers. Despite the rough elements and close corners of life on the
open water, the Norwegian offices of Phillips Petroleum provide 80 percent
of the company's income. Difficult odds or not, the offshore team in the
North Sea seems to be getting the job done. The question is, how? "If
I said teamwork, I think a couple of people might roll their eyes,"
says Tim Houghton, an internal consultant at Phillips. "Everyone has
heard a lot about teamwork over the past few years. It's not like the concept
What is new, however, is the method that Houghton and his colleagues at
the Norwegian Society for Quality (NSQ) have developed to measure the effectiveness
of teamwork. So while Houghton credits his company's success in the face
of adversity to teamwork, he's quick to point out that the method he and
his colleagues have developed goes beyond teamwork to something more. "The
trouble with teamwork," Houghton says, "is sometimes you see results,
but other times, when expectations are high and great minds come together,
the project just fizzles. And what do you do about it? How do you know what
went wrong? You don't. Well, at least until now."
The NSQ developed a method to define effective teamwork via self-evaluations.
Through self-evaluation, teams measure their own success through three areas:
team skills, process proficiency and results. The self-evaluation is integrated
into a team's activity depending on how the team functions. For example,
a team that works on a localized level, evaluating the processes they are
involved in every day, versus a team that exists for a short period of time
and then disbands. However distinct the functioning of the team, the role
of self-evaluation remains the same: to understand how well the team has
performed regarding specific criteria.
By engaging in teamwork, employees often relearn how to do their jobs and
improve upon processes. Also, teamwork provides a localized sense of reward
in an often complex workplace. The larger a company becomes, the easier
it is to feel disenfranchised; teamwork provides recognition by peers and
a sense of accomplishment in the company's progress.
The company benefits from effective teamwork through increased efficiency,
better use of employee skills, better decision making and a more involved
work force. Combined, these benefits add up to an improved bottom-line,
but viewed individually, they don't necessarily translate into hard and
fast numbers. That doesn't mean those benefits aren't valuable, insists
Houghton, "If we don't figure out how to measure how well a team works
together, success will remain sporadic and teams will continue to underachieve.
Ultimately, what we risk is management losing its faith in teamwork."
In the first step to defining effective teamwork, the NSQ has defined three
types of teams: quality improvement groups, project teams and process management
Quality improvement teams are voluntary, permanent and meet regularly to
problem solve quality improvement issues within an immediate work environment.
Project teams, also known as task forces and re-engineering teams, are organized
for a specific project and disband upon completion of task; these teams
solve high level problems in organizations and have intense meeting frequency
over a short period of time. Project teams are multi-disciplinary and transcend
Process management teams meet on a regular basis and are made up of process
owners and key process members; these teams constantly monitor, analyze
and make recommendations to improve processes including inputs and added
Self-Evaluation Within Each Team
All three types of teams evaluate themselves in the same way: each member
fills out an evaluation form consisting of three categories; team skills,
process proficiency and results. The categories are broken down into several
Team skills consists of five criteria, the first of which is an internal
team agreement, built on consensus to determine how well the team lives
up to their self-defined code of conduct. Other criteria include individual
contribution (listening skills, questioning, good interpersonal skills);
team efficiency (how efficiently the team conducts its business, even distribution
of work load, timely completion of tasks and efficiency of meetings); external
contribution ("Effective teams don't work in isolation," says
Houghton. "Teams need to be measured also by the degree that their
actions are held accountable to consequences on other areas of the organization.
Teams have to understand the big picture."); and finally, team learning,
which takes into account individual learning, overall improvement and information
sharing with other teams.
The second category of team evaluation is called process proficiency. Here
the team evaluates their ability to follow a structured process and effectively
choose and use the right tools. The team measures their process proficiency
through six criteria: structured process (what process was used and how
well, i.e. problem solving, quality planning and re-engineering); data analysis
(acting on the right facts, judging if data was sufficient to support the
team's basis for decision making); tools and techniques (selection of tools
and techniques, appropriateness of use, and how well the team used them);
verification (a quality check before implementation designed to answer the
question 'will it work?'); and an implementation plan. "The biggest
stumbling block for teams occurs in the implementation phase," says
Houghton. "Conversely, successful teams are empowered to implement
the results of teamwork."
An implementation plan is essential because it defines who is responsible
for implementing measurements and follow-ups, and it makes sure the concerns
of those affected are taken into consideration. Finally, the presentation
and final report should be evaluated in the process proficiency section
of the team's self-evaluation. The team must ask whether their presentation
and final report are comprehensive, concise, well-illustrated and the basis
for sound decision making.
The third category for measuring effective teamwork is results, sub-divided
into added value to the sponsor's expectations and signal effect, which
is the benefit of one team's success to another. "Most engineers look
exclusively at results," laughs Houghton. "But big results are
not always a consequence of effective teamwork. Ninety percent of teamwork
that takes place in an organization will not yield headline grabbing results."
Each team member reviews the criteria and scores it individually. The team
then compares individual scores and determines a score by consensus. The
criteria is scored on a point scale from 0 to 5.
There are three factors to which criteria are rated: Evaluation/Characteristic,
Existence and Value-Adding Factor. All scores are multiplied by a factor
that results in the following weighting by category: team skills are worth
40 percent of the overall grade, process proficiency is another 40 percent,
and results 20 percent.
"Obviously, emphasis is on how a team arrives at results, not what
results actually arrive," says Houghton. "The focus is therefore
on the synergy of people and processes, ideas and performance. Self-evaluation
provides management with a tool to gauge teamwork and understand its successes."
And measuring teamwork can only help to improve it, he argues, "because
it enables teams to learn and improve, and it provides a platform for recognition
and reward. In a world where people are hard pressed to find meaning in
a complex work environment, teamwork helps us see the forest in spite of