Build an Environment for Teamwork


Excerpt from Agile Readiness (forthcoming)

By Thomas P. Wise and Reuben Daniel


For team members separated by any of the elements of virtuality, building the ability to communicate effectively is essential to creating shared meaning around the vision and mission that establish and support the behaviors needed to compete effectively. Providing clarity around the direction of the organization is essential to developing an environment where team members may come together and share the responsibility for the success of the team. We need employees that know how to manage and managers that know how to lead.

Management is the process by which scarce resources are allocated across competing priorities, and yet in an agile culture priority becomes somewhat blurred by the need to allow employees maximum freedom to make internal team decisions. As leaders we have essentially shifted management from something we do to our employees to a process by which things get done (McCrimmon, 2010).

Agile and lean methods work best in a culture that creates a semblance of servant leadership as the way in which work gets done. Employees need to be connected with their team in a way that creates a desire to serve the team to which they identify. They must feel a membership with the team that causes a desire to serve and lead when the need arises.

Leaders within the team, while still leading, must focus on the needs of the team and the team’s capability to meet the priorities and goals of the larger organization. It is the duty of organizational leaders to provide truly transformational leadership providing the vision, mission, and motivation.

Building a culture layered with distributed leaders and committed team members is essential to effectively deploying an organization that is both lean and agile. According to Stone, Russell, and Patterson, transformational and servant leaders are analogous in their people oriented leadership characteristics (2002).

Distributed leadership is an essential characteristic of a culture capable of building and sustaining agility, and one that is highly desirable in building a lean organizational ecosystem due to the essentially continuous shifting of team member roles. While common knowledge in team building tells us team members require unique and specific roles, role shifting is extremely common in virtual project teams. A recent study indicated that only about twelve percent of team members maintain the same unique role throughout the life of the project.


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About the Authors

pmwj14-sep2013-wise-daniel-  WISE IMAGEflag-usaDr. Thomas Wise

Pennsylvania, USA

Dr Thomas Wise, PMP, ASQ-CQM, is a Quality Director with 20+ years’ experience in problem solving and process improvement in industry, including Nuclear Power, Finance, and Communications.  A professor with Villanova University, DeSales University, and University of Phoenix, Dr Wise teaches supplier and software quality, business research, and organizational and project management. He is the author of Trust in Virtual Teams published by Gower. http://www.gowerpublishing.com/isbn/9781409453611

flag-usapmwj14-sep2013-wise-daniel-  DANIEL IMAGEReuben Daniel

New Jersey, USA

Reuben Daniel is a Director of Cognizant’s Business Consulting practice focusing on Business Process Transformation. With several years of experience in the Communications industry, he is an expert in Six Sigma, Lean, ITIL, Agile and Organization Change Management. Reuben is a certified Information Systems Auditor and has published papers on Cost of Quality, ROI and Quality Management.