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Go Bananas, Build a Winning Team

In the two previous articles, we established the importance of building a a team on a foundation of trust and making and keeping promises to deliver on the commitments needed to be successful in the project game. When each player on a team focuses on the prize and delivers to the best of their ability each and every day, the team will succeed.

Despite losing their quarterback prior to entering the 2018 NFL playoffs the Philadelphia Eagles were able to put together a string of wins, beat the odds and win the 2018 Super Bowl. It was an amazing victory! They acted as a team, they committed to winning and they were accountable to each other for delivering the performance needed. In this article we address how to form an exceptional team to win at the project game.

Hand pick the best TALENT

Team selection is the single most important factor for an Owner wanting to deliver an exceptional project. One that exceeds expectations, is delivered on time, at less cost and risk. Choosing a winning team requires scouting for talent as opposed to picking a team of low cost players. As the coach you will want to advise the Owner that if they want the championship, they will need to build the best integrated team based upon a balance of defense, offense and leadership. We normally don't have the budget of the New York teams, so we will may need to search out the hidden gems, that are intrinsically motivated to perform when challenged.


The drafting process should be lean, simple and focus on selecting best value proponents that have demonstrated the ability to work collaboratively in a spirit of trust to deliver successful high value projects. The process should not include a long cumbersome selection process with a dog and pony show. It needs to be a streamlined process that involves scouting talent, inviting them to training camp and testing them on their commitment, collaboration, experience and capabilities to participate in a disciplined approach.

Forming, Storming, Norming and Performing

 Once the team has been selected it is very important to start building strong relationships between all of the players. This involves forming, norming, storming and you will want to get to the performing stage as soon as possible. For success, It needs to be an all for one and one for effort with commitment, discipline and accountability for getting work done.


A great way to begin the journey is to share a meal and get to know each other on a personal level. On one project we began with a round table, “Tell us something unique or funny about yourself that nobody at this table knows about you." It was great to discover that Bob was not a turkey, but rather a modern day timber salvage diver that had an amazing story to tell. By relating to people on a personal level, we can get to the level of comfort needed to care and trust each other as an integral player on the team. We also need to have a level of comfort so that we can have the tough conversations that are often required when we need to create alignment and challenge the team to up their game, for the good of the team.


Once we have trust, commitment and relationships established it is much easier to learn, practice and master the skills and systems needed to win at the project game.

Head to Boot Camp

 At boot camp we learn the basic plays of delivering a project based upon lean project delivery principles and practices. We learn how to pull plan the sequences of plays that are needed to march the team down the field to meet the milestones without getting flagged for inefficiency and broken plays. We learn that with Just-In-Time delivery systems for manufacturing or the Last Planner System for construction or implementing a Minimum Viable Product for software development, that we can sequence work to be more reliable, efficient and productive.


he AHA moment comes when the team realizes that by adopting the same principles that Toyota uses for manufacturing and applying them to Construction or Starting a Business, that we can be deliver wildly successful projects with much less effort.

Prepare for Game Day

 Next we need to prepare for the first stage of a project, the preseason game. This is where the team huddles to pull plan the work and execute the plays and deliver on commitments needed to move the project down the field. The daily huddles are necessary to ensure that all members of the team are focused on delivering the right work for the hand-off to the next players so that the flow of work is optimized for team throughput and not for an individual firms self interest. The team will need to take time outs to access non-performance, make adjustments and test for improvement. 

At the end of the first quarter, we count the number of planned verses completed sets of downs and mark them on a scoreboard. The team needs to measure the percentage of planned work completed as opposed to what was planned for the week, for direct feedback on performance.

The team need time to plan and coordinate the phases of work on a weekly and daily basis to ensure the work is fully sequenced, there are no constraints preventing the team from reaching the finish line. The daily huddles are for dealing with smaller issues and exploring new ways to continually improve performance.

Test for Fitness Level 

 It is also recommended to benchmark team fitness levels and continually monitor progress to learn which areas of the game may need attention. Some common performance measurements include, team collaboration, meeting owner value expectations, delivering to target cost, delivering to schedule, profitability, problem solving and continuous improvement. You will also want measure good team behavior by testing for trust, collaboration, problem solving, continuous improvement and ensuring the team is having the crucial conversations needed to maintain a healthy and productive environment.


If there are areas of weakness, the team needs to fix the problems that are the highest priority for progressing to that next level of performance. This may involve creating specialty teams to focus on a specific problem, provide training on how to make better decisions, stream line processes and developing new ways to get work to flow.

Now that you have the basics to establishing a Winning TEAM, we need you to Go BANANAS and get some Great Lean pays for Green wins and build a NetZero energy project.


Murray Guy

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