TEAM FOCUS concepts by Paul N. Friga in McKinsey Engagement.
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TEAM FOCUS is a powerful toolkit for more efficient and effective team problem solving. TEAM FOCUS concepts are by Paul N. Friga and published in McKinsey Engagement.


The key to making this succeed is understanding of the concepts, and also disciplined execution of these concepts.

TEAM is interpersonal


One of the most important elements of high-quality team problem solving is establishing very clear channels of communication. This chapter discusses special communication tools and provides guidance concerning best-process communication, inclusion of important constituents outside of the core team, and tips on managing interpersonal dialogue. The chapter also features a special section about listening.


Teamwork is a dynamic process, and the most successful teams are those that are able to assess their current level of performance and adapt accordingly. The starting point for good evaluation is an open dialogue about expectations, group norms, specific work processes, and tools for monitoring progress. Implicit in the team evaluation process is an individually based personal plan that allows each team member to grow and develop on a continual basis.


We all have strengths and weaknesses, and evaluation is the only way in which we can adequately identify where to focus our energy for on the Evaluate phase, which identifies particular strengths of team members that can be leveraged for the good of the team. Strategic leverage of unique capabilities is an underlying component of all "special forces" organizations and is just common sense. At the same time, team members must hold one another accountable for their assigned responsibilities. Direct, honest, and timely feedback will ensure that the Assist process is operating correctly.


The last element of the model's interpersonal component involves very specific strategies for motivation. One of the most important considerations is the realization that team members are motivated by different factors. Accordingly, engaging in informal, candid conversations at the beginning of the project about what those unique motivators are and paying close attention to individuals' drivers will go a long way. Similarly, the best teams are those that provide positive recognition for individual contributions and take adequate time to celebrate as a group (many of us seem to do less and less of this the older we get). The second component of the model relates to the core analytical elements of successful project management.

FOCUS is analytical


The first element in the FOCUS component is widely regarded as the most important in the entire model. Essentially, framing the problem (before you begin extensive data collection!) involves identifying the key question that you are studying, drawing issue trees for potential investigation, and developing hypotheses for testing during the project. Good framing translates into more effective problem solving, as you will be ensuring that the work you are doing will translate into high-impact results—the ultimate measure of effectiveness.


This element is a boring but necessary step in preparing the team for efficient problem solving. All teams organize in some manner or another, but my research suggests that more efficient teams organize around content hypotheses with the end in mind. Unfortunately, in many cases, there seems to be a default approach that compels teams to organize quickly around the buckets that seem to surface most easily, rather than on the basis of potential answers to the key question under study.


The next element of the model provides guidance that leads to the collection of relevant data, avoiding the overcollection of data that are not useful. The most efficient teams are those that can look at the two piles of data collected and smile as they realize that the relevant data (pile 1) far outweigh the irrelevant information (pile 2) because the team continuously analyzed the difference.


As the team gathers data, these data must be evaluated for their potential contribution to proving or disproving the hypotheses. At McKinsey, the term used on an almost daily basis is "so what?"—what is the meaning of the insight from these data for the project, and ultimately for the client?


The final element in the model is to synthesize the information into a compelling story. Here is where the well-known "pyramid principle" related to organizing a written report or slide deck comes into play. In this chapter, I cover the guidelines for putting together and delivering a great final product.


Source: Paul N. Friga, The McKinsey Engagement : A Powerful Toolkit For More Efficient and Effective Team Problem Solving. McGraw-Hill. 2009