Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Balancing Act

I am a huge fan of "Season 25: Oprah Behind the Scenes" on the OWN network.  And I'm not even a regular Oprah viewer.  What I loved about this series was that it was all about her team and how they delivered incredible television during a year when they were in full transition mode. 

Season 25 was the end of the Oprah Winfrey Show, and that meant many, many people within the Harpo "family" would be looking for new employment.  And while a year's notice is more than most will ever receive, if you watch the behind the scenes episodes you'll come to realize that it will probably take them the whole season to get their heads around the fact that "the best job ever" is going away.

Here's the Preview Clip for the season:  http://www.oprah.com/oprahshow/Preview-Season-25-Reality-Show-OWN-Video

What strikes me about this clip, and what I noticed when I watched the show, is what I'd call The Balancing Act - the highs balancing out the lows.  And of course, maybe that's just good editing on their part, but it's what we'd all strive for with our own teams. 

We make mistakes, we present ideas that get shot down, and we disappoint the boss.  But if it's balanced, we also create awesome final results, and we celebrate them together as a team and the boss joins in. 

Under highly stressful and emotional conditions, Oprah's Teams in Transition elevated the show's final season to a level of quality they'd never even attempted before.  And the leader of those teams, Oprah, knows it, appreciates it, and expresses it for all to hear and see. 

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Multipurpose Tools

A RACI chart is a tool commonly used by project managers for keeping track of who is Responsible, who is Accountable, who needs to be Consulted, and who needs to be Informed.  This is discussed and assigned at the start of a project, and then reviewed and revised as needed throughout the project until it's completed.  Yet RACI is one of those tools that can be used by people in many areas of business and for multiple purposes. 

One example is the major change initiative.  When roles and responsibilities are in flux and team members are transitioning, this tool is very effective in providing clarity.  It also gives the team a common business language that shows how they are each needed, but in different ways in order to make an assignment successful.

Another application is for the leader whose workload (or work team) no longer fits their micromanagement style.  It can give visibility to who has what, while allowing the leader to shift to the more senior level of Informed on less critical functions. 

It can even be used as a tool to show a leader that there's an imbalance within the team (e,g., one person is always assigned the role of Responsible and another the role of Consulted), or that skills and experience are not properly matched to tasks and functions.

If this sounds like something your team might benefit from, check with your organization's Project Management Office and see what kind of templates they use.  Or, click on this link for a great article written by Project Smart on getting started with RACI:  A Practical Guide to RACI.