The 4 Dimensions

Executing

How does your team plan and work toward its goals?
"Someone’s sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago." — Warren Buffett
A quick Google search reveals countless tools, technologies, tips and tricks for getting work done, from simple sticky notes all the way to complex project management systems. But at its core, executing on a project means collaborating with others in a way that works not just for us as individuals, but for the entire group.
While every team has its own idiosyncrasies, its execution style will fall into one of two archetypes.

Deliberate

teams create detailed implementation plans that they then closely follow and diligently maintain.

Characteristics of

Deliberate

teams

  • Every project starts with a detailed implementation plan. That plan needs to be approved before action can start.
  • You regularly review progress against your implementation plans, diligently pursuing milestones and updating the plan as circumstances evolve.
  • When something unexpected happens, your team's first instinct is to go back to the original plan and figure out why it wasn't anticipated.

Where

Deliberate

teams excel

Environments where predictable delivery against defined outcomes is essential, e.g.,

  • Long, complex projects with high costs of changing direction, like infrastructure and engineering efforts.
  • Efforts that require coordination across multiple stakeholders (both internal and potentially external), like product launches and integrated marketing campaigns.
  • Heavily regulated environments with detailed standards like healthcare, finance, or aviation call for meticulous planning to stay in compliance.

Spontaneous

teams stay responsive to new information, with lightweight plans that are quickly tossed aside in the face of changing circumstances.

Characteristics of

Spontaneous

teams

  • You move (nearly!) immediately from the point at which a decision is made to taking action.
  • Many projects don't have a detailed plan defined, with the team opting to "figure it out at as we go."
  • For those times when a plan does get defined, it's lightweight (and perhaps rarely referenced again).

Where

Spontaneous

teams excel

Environments where where immediate action or a rapid "test and learn" approach is required, e.g.,

  • Industries or projects where conditions change rapidly, such as startups or crisis response, where the ability to adapt quickly is crucial.
  • Situations where the correct path is unknowable (or too expensive or time consuming to discover), and the best way forward is to act, measure, and iterate. This includes the early stages of pure research & development.
  • Short-term projects with less complexity that require quick turnaround times, as these settings allow the Spontaneous team to leverage their flexible planning and rapid execution strengths.
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Understanding how your team works is the key to getting work done (and having fun while doing it). You might be surprised what you learn.

Only 1/3 of managers know their teams.
Just 36% of managers correctly identify their team's type. If you don't know how your team works, how can you manage it?
9 in 10 people are out of alignment with their team.
91% of individuals are in tension with at least one of their team's core behaviors (two-thirds are in tension with 2 or more behaviors). Learn to thrive, even where you might naturally struggle!
3 out of 5 people want to work differently.
60% of individuals would prefer that their team execute towards its objectives differently. Maybe it's time to change how the team is working?
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