Copyright to Constantine Kortesis © 2013
Published here April 2014.

Editor's Note | Introduction | Turnaround Management Constraints 
Incorporating Team Building | Case in Point

Turnaround Management Constraints

As a "troubled projects turnaround manager", I have often been assigned to take over projects in which I do not choose the team. I usually cannot fire anyone but I may choose additional team members if the existing team lacks specific critical expertise. Often, the projects are international in nature and so are the team members. Usually, the projects are significantly behind schedule. It would be absurd to attempt to apply any formal personality testing to the project team.

The best way to get to know the team is to meet with each of the members in an informal setting. This is difficult and costly on international projects, but worth the time and expense. Extended and frequent one-on-one telephone and/or Skype-type communications also help. Small "group" - three or four persons - social conference calls also help.

All too often, I have seen the businesses and projects that do not set aside enough time for team members and project leaders to get to know each other. In settings where all of the team members have been colleagues for many years, this may not be an issue. But in our current world, we are often required to work with complete strangers.

Military organizations make great efforts to standardize rules, procedures and training in attempts to make all, or most, of their members "interchangeable". Some businesses such as IBM and EDS (spawned from IBM) had paramilitary cultures to get their personnel to follow a rigid corporate culture, for that same purpose. In recent times, businesses have been too quick to churn their employees via mergers, acquisitions and the massive layoffs ("redundancies") that follow. Much knowledge is lost and morale destroyed.

At this point, Mario Vasilkovs interjected:

"Constantine, an absolutely fascinating glimpse of the legendary Deming et al in action. Thanks for sharing. And I particularly enjoyed that nugget of gold about how the test would only catch out those insufficiently aware of how to give answers that the testers wanted to hear - an issue with any such testing.

Your prescription for project recovery matches my thinking as well. Moreover, it makes the argument that we'd be better off spending the money proactively to establish those relationships before the project got into trouble. Ultimately, your points about creating the relationship and interchangeable personnel are about creating a climate of trust, which is the foundation of any successful project."

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