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What Wildly Successful Projects and Google have in Common

iStock_000009178000SmallWe are currently in the last phase of a successful data conversion project which will enable the client to consolidate their Finance reporting into one company code. This project streamlines the Supply Chain and Finance data within 45 buildings and 23,000 employees including multiple hospitals across the entire province.

I lead the Supply Chain team and also make sure our team closely integrates with the Data, Technology, Finance, Knowledge Transfer, Change Management and Integration teams.

Why will we look back at this project with so much fondness? What really makes a project a success?

We collaborate as a team and permit all team members to speak up when innovating and problem solving. When our Supply Chain team had issues we did not panic but always gathered in a room and allowed each team member to speak their mind. Sounds like common sense right? When you have strong personalities on a project it isn’t easy to give everyone speaking time but this turns out to be a key factor of a project either failing or succeeding. It’s not about managing who is on the team it’s about the how. Successful project norms allow members to fail without judgement, respect different opinions, and trust that your teammates are not trying to undercut you.

Why is Google so successful in projects and team building? In the fascinating book – Smarter, Faster, Better the author examines how Google devotes enormous resources to studying their 53,000 workers’ happiness and productivity. Google concluded that good teams succeed not because of superb individual intelligence but because of how well team members treat each other. These teams had norms in place that allowed everyone to mesh extremely well. In my project, our Supply Chain team constantly collaborates with the Data or Technology team and we make sure ALL team members speak up, from the most senior to the most junior. And many times the younger members came up with brilliant solutions to complex problems. What if they had not been given a chance to speak each meeting? We would have lost all that brilliance.

What were the prime success factors our team and Google have in common? First of all we gave team members the same amount of time to speak. Secondly we wanted to make sure no one felt left out or was secretly upset. This means being able to read faces and body language and asking what people were thinking about. In project mode, tight deadlines have to be met and our team needs to have all members collaborate in a respectful but highly efficient manner. My main job is to orchestrate the team and make sure people feel safe, speak up and that we treat others as we want to be treated. I give control to the group when required and it succeeds brilliantly.

We all want to be part of a winning team. We all want to have purpose and to be treated fairly and contribute on a regular basis. This is what makes us come to work. This is the Google way as well as ours.

“The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one”

How is your team doing?

Terry Vermeylen is hell bent on rapidly transforming your business into a World Class Operation by major transformation or by eliminating one bad habit at a time.

Terry Vermeylen brings 30+ years of experience in SAP and Supply Chain Process improvement. As an SAP professional and Supply Chain Architect he has worked and consulted for some of the world’s largest and most successful manufacturing companies focusing primarily on the Aerospace and Pharmaceutical industries.

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