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It takes me back to those 80’s TV days of the A-Team when you occasionally encounter Mr T, B.A Barracas advertising Snickers bars.
This popular show featured cartoonish violence (in which people were seldom seriously hurt), formulaic episodes, its characters' ability to form weaponry and vehicles out of old parts, and of course, its distinctive theme tune.
This isn’t that far removed from what many big system projects require. Apart from stubborn and dogged determination of ‘finishers’, (somewhat rare I find at times), some clear organisation (possibly some coming from moi as a Critical Friend), we need team members who understand the system and can think out of the box. You wouldn’t think that could be so difficult to create, but incredibly it is at times.
Early on with most clients I work with, I go out of my way to make friends and understand everyone’s capabilities. Often a number of staff members I meet stand out, becoming my default go-to people if I had a choice.
In many projects, for the ‘project team’ I have been offered what I might call ‘spare or inappropriate staff’ or the C or D Team. Being the black and white professional (proud) Mancunian that I am, I am quick to flag this up as a potential oversight and in some cases, putting an important project in jeopardy, right from (before) the start.
On many occasions, managers & sometimes directors have sternly let me know, “You ain’t getting my best staff on that crucial system and transformation project, fool!”.
At which point I generally politely remind them that if the A-Team are not involved, the result will be unlikely to meet up to our future needs and ‘transformation’ is likely to be rather watery at best. ‘Pi** Poor’ is one way I actually put it at one client.
How many times have you worked at organisations where this was the case, or even you might have been on some of those projects? Paying lip service to it all and not delivering quality staff for teams, results from my experience in weak transformation, extra costs to fix what they got wrong, blame culture, partly implemented systems that will never be completed and massive delays.
There is a cost to getting the A-Team involved, but it is a tiny drop in the ocean, compared to the massive benefits that await a well delivered project. Factor and cost this in, plus some back-filling if needed. Back-filling is a necessary evil, but why not consider helping less senior staff act up, and backfill their posts instead? That way you can potentially develop staff, in a healthy business culture.
Think on about the above and you and me can be smug after smooth and richly functional go-lives, smoking a big fat Cuban cigar together, remarking “I love it when a plan comes together”
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Mike Post/Pete Carpenter - Theme From The A-Team.
(c) Tony Smith, Acutance Consulting www.acutanceconsulting.co.uk 07854-655009
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