What’s the weather like today? A blog about teams, with a small letter.
Every day, I work together with people who live in eleven different countries spread across a number of different time zones. My online meetings show me that at one and the same time, it can be snowing in Seoul, pelting down in Prague and sunny in Sao Paulo. In our international and multi-disciplinary team, we are working together to implement steps in an extensive transformation programme. This programme is designed to overhaul the way of thinking, the way of working, the processes and the technology, so that in the future too, the company we are working for can continue to meet customers’ high expectations and handle the state of constant change.
When we at Vasco start a transformation process at an organisation, we take a pragmatic approach: we begin by analysing the capacity and methods available, to see how to formulate a realistic result quickly and then realise it. The principal aim of this phase is to put together a team and to introduce a way of working that shows that change is possible. Setting up a team takes work and time. The first step here is to focus on the programme’s goals and expectations, because we want to have them clearly and explicitly understood by the management layer, as this is where we expect to find true sponsorship. If we then start working on a short-term cycle with a multidisciplinary (technology and business) team then the first thing we do is to make it personal: what was a person’s background before joining this project team? What does this person want to achieve on this project? And what really motivates him or her? We try to understand each other, so that we can work well together to achieve an initial result. We then present and celebrate this result together with the entire organisation. This is the start of the transformation process.
Major transformation programmes are a marathon. Even though we use terms such as sprints, short cycles, scrums, quick wins and continual acceleration, in practice the process is long-winded. In order to take on this marathon, teams have to be formed that are well-attuned to each other. Who want to work for each other. Who dare to make mistakes and who are honest with each other. Teams that trust each other and really believe that change is possible. Most colleagues carry out their programme work in addition to their day-to-day operational work. The time that they spend on the programme has to deliver both enjoyment and value, because if you don’t do this then you won’t last for a whole marathon.
After working on and with this team for eight months, I recently travelled to meet the European-based part of the team. It’s a somewhat awkward moment when you meet each other for the first time on a Sunday afternoon at a hotel bar in Stockholm. Trying to decide between a friendly nod, a Covid-proof elbow-bump or a hug is what characterises the first few minutes. But soon the drinks are ordered and the conversation turns to holiday plans, children, pets, the Northern Lights and fishing tournaments.
After spending three days together under the same roof and meeting up for dinner and drinks on three consecutive evenings, we cautiously arrive at the same initial conclusion: we are proud of the results we have achieved. It’s a good start.
We are now working together again every day in online meetings. We are focussing on a clearly-defined goal that we will work towards over the coming months. We scale up the teams, which enables us to achieve progress faster. The transformation programme is getting up a head of steam.
If I now look at the world shown on my computer’s display then apart from a range of weather conditions, I also see personal details. I now know that the cat that occasionally wanders across the view I have of one colleague is the same one I see with another colleague. For me, it’s a sign that we are on the right path. We know each other, understand each other and collaborate well.
Vasco. Together we make it simple.