As an independent consultant I frequently join projects and teams that are struggling to find their way. This is an overview of the approach I use to help get them back on track.
At school my brother Wake was an air cadet and learned to fly a plane. One lesson he mentioned really stuck with me:
If a plane is spinning out of control then you don’t actually know which way is up - trying to gain height before you fix the spin will just end up crashing harder and sooner. Instead you need to accept the loss of altitude while you fix the spin and create predictable behaviour. Only then can you start to increase speed and regain height.
It turns out exactly the same thing is true for projects.
Struggling teams often make big promises about what they can achieve but then deliver much less than they expected. From the outside this can look really chaotic but usually the team is working as fast as they can while also trying to overcome all sorts of internal and external challenges and distractions.
Working on a team like this can feel like playing Mario Carts – constantly trying to go as quickly as possible but repeatedly to crash into walls. Slowing down allows the team to successfully deliver small predictable increment while understanding and fixing the underlying issues. Over time the team is able to make and keep bigger promises and so grow rapidly in both confidence and productivity.
I hope you find this approach useful – if you’re interested in finding out more then please feel free to reach out.