What is your project team IQ (intelligence quota)? Intelligence quota was developed to express the apparent relative intelligence of an individual. Historically, IQ is interpreted as an indication of how smart you are.
Let’s move that definition of IQ into the workplace, where we work in teams. Your project team has its own IQ. That sum of collective professional expertise is far greater than its individual parts. Consider how experience, and common sense, are distributed – and balanced – throughout your project team.
When project teams – and any work team for that matter – inventory the collective knowledge among members, the team is better able to articulate how they create value for customers. That type of leadership mindset and collaboration is how project team IQ becomes a competitive differentiator.
Does your team assume that everyone in your organization understands how your project team creates and delivers value to your customers? Your internal colleagues really do not know what you do.
Your goal is for your team to become regarded as experts and go-to resources for your customers. Often, this information is buried deep within organizational silos. Your mission is to take your project team IQ message to the rest of the project teams and work teams in your organization.
But it’s uncomfortable!
In order to explore your project team IQ, take a step outside of the comfort of your department. Engage in honest conversations with all of the other internal teams whose output your team impacts. Often, the business table is set by the sales team long before a project team enters the equation. Is your project team marginalized from revenue-generating conversations?
The majority of sales teams indirectly “sell” a project team’s IQ to customers, without ever speaking to that project team. Since the fate of a contract, once in house, is in the hands of the project team, sales may be shortchanging project teams by leaving them out of the equation until it becomes time to execute strategy.
Find out the reason your sales teams leave you out of the business equation until that contract comes in house for execution. You and your project team will need to be painfully honest and introspective, as a result of these important conversations. Take that small innovative step forward.
Continue having similar internal conversations with teams from other business units, like operations, logistics, finance, strategy. Debrief. Incorporate what you learn into your collective project team IQ. Become a more robust and nimble team in the process.
Where do I start?
Initiate internal project team conversations with these three questions. Adapt these questions for your conversations with other internal teams in your organization.
- Is our team presumptuous and intimidating? Yes, we may be the smartest people in the room. Does our attitude drive (or impede) revenue generation? How does our attitude play out when we work side-by-side with other employees (internal customers) as well as external customer teams? When our team is always right, chances are people turn off and tune out.
- Is our team considered experts and innovators or are we perceived as order-takers? Do our internal colleagues and our external customers ask us “Can you do this?” when we really want them to ask us “What do you think?” Do we focus on yesterday’s project differentitators: meeting deadlines on-time, under-budget, as-specified? Are these attributes really today’s table stakes?
- If our true strategic goal is for customers to regard our project team as experts and innovators, why is our current project portfolio 90% full of repeat business projects? Do our current customers truly understand the breadth and depth of our project team’s capabilities? Is our project team IQ challenged by current projects in our portfolio or are we underutilized and bored, operating on project auto-pilot?
It’s a balancing act.
How do you showcase your project team IQ without intimidating prospective customers and internal colleagues? Your project team may be eroding client confidence, instead of reinforcing it.
Clearly, project team IQ involves more than showcasing that you are the smartest folks in the room. That strategy erects barriers to execution of strategy.
Have you been thinking about the same things? You can’t move forward as a project team of worth until you know what is holding your team back from achieving your goals.
Start by taking your own project team’s pulse. Then move that conversation out into your organization. Your colleagues will appreciate that you took the first step towards knocking down barriers. Building bridges between professional disciplines is always the best strategy.
Babette N. Ten Haken builds innovative, productive and profitable teams focused on excellence in the execution of strategy. Her Playbook on collaboration hacks, including tools, Do YOU Mean Business? is available on Amazon.com.