Questions

The following questions might be helpful for Step 3 – Apply. They correspond to the cultural differences listed under the respective topics.

Communication

Who are the key people with whom you collaborate? Not only within the team, but also colleagues in other teams. You can take it even one step, or one concentric circle, further: within the team, in other teams, and among external customers and/or suppliers?

When do you communicate with each other? About what do you communicate? How: via email, telephone, video? Most importantly, why do you communicate with each other?

Direct vs. Indirect
When do you need to be direct in your communication, and when indirect?

Professional vs. Personal
In those relationships, when is it important to maintain a strict separation between matters of business and becoming acquainted with each other personally? Where should you draw that line?

Small Talk
This is a less complex, but not unimportant question. When and how should you use small talk in order to help with communication?

Controversial Issues
What issues should simply never be addressed? Which issues are in the gray zone? And which issues should, and must, be addressed?

Unsolicitied Advice
This is complex. When should you offer your opinion on sensitive issues even if you have not been asked? And when are you willing to accept advice even if you have not requested it? 

The goal is to ensure that as little as possible gets lost in your communication.

Agreements

Which are the team’s most important recurring agreements? And which are the team’s most important non-recurring agreements? Which colleagues enter into those agreements?

Agreements are like contracts. Discuss the following main components of any contract:

Title
Term or phrase identifying the agreement. Customer: Name of the party receiving the deliverable. Partners: Participants in the agreement.

Deliverables
Specific tasks of the agreement. Context: Essential background information. Consequences: Consequences of the agreement not being fulfilled.

Dates
Request, due, follow up, acceptance, completion. Signatures: Parties to the agreement.

The goal is to get max. clarity on the specifics of your agreements so that they can be monitored and fulfilled.

Persuasion

Remember, there are no decisions without weighing the advantages and disadvantages of decision options. And decision options first have to be presented before being weighed. 

Which are the team’s most important recurring decisions? And which are the team’s most important non-recurring decisions?

Who is persuading whom? In other words, who is selling and who is buying? Are all of the key parties aware of the differences in persuasion logics? What modifications in approaches need to be taken?

The goal is to present decisions options so that their strengths and weaknesses are clearly understood. This, in turn, is the basis for optimal decision making.

Decision Making

As stated under the topic Persuasion which are the team’s most important recurring decisions? And which are the team’s most important non-recurring decisions? Who is, and is not, involved in the decision making?

Scope
What is the scope of the decision? Is it narrow or broad?

Process
Is there a specific process for making the decision? If so, what is it?

Resources
What should be budgeted – people, money, time – to analyze and then make the decision?

Analysis
What analysis will be performed in terms of methods and tools?

Risk
What risks are involved? How will they be assessed?

Leadership

In the interactions between team lead and team members:

Strategy and Tactics
Where do you draw the line between strategy (the what) and tactics (the how)? In other words, when is it ok for the team lead to be involved in the implementation of a decision? And when is it ok for team members to say: “Stop. Our job. We know how to proceed from here”?

Strategy Formulation
Who is, and is not, involved in strategy formulation, including making the big decisions? Although this is sensitive, you need address it openly.

Strategy Modification
And what about strategy modification, in the sense of making changes on the ground, during implementation, without first getting permission from the team lead? In other words, when can and should team members make decisions independent of the team lead?

Lines of Communication
How do you as team lead and team members communicate? Literally: when, how, and about what do you communicate with each other? From spontaneous interactions, to one-on-one phone calls, to staff meetings, to project- or task-based reporting.

Feedback

What are the key interactions: between team lead and team members, among team members as colleagues, between your team and other organizations within the company and outside of the company? In other words, what are the most important interactions in the team’s overall ecosystem?

Who gives feedback to whom, when, in what form, and how? Not in the formal HR-sense, but instead in the sense of the team pausing during the game to assess the situation in order make corrections, then continue moving forward in the game?

Praise and Critique
More specifically, how should you handle both praise and critique?

Discretion
And what about discretion: when do you voice serious critique in a group setting or in a one-to-one conversation?

Scores
How do you maintain a common understanding of the situation, of the “score of the game”? In other words, how do you ensure that you are working from the same baseline? What is your “scoring system”, in terms of words and numbers? 

Conflict

You are a team, with a team lead and team members. Internal conflict is normal, even healthy. What is your team-internal process for addressing and resolving conflicts?

Escalation
When do you escalate a conflict to your team lead and when should you resolve the conflict among yourselves?

Hearing
If team-internal conflict is escalated to the your team lead, should the team lead have a kind of hearing in which both parties are present and make their case?

Evidence
What kind of evidence is acceptable? Yes, facts and numbers. But what about subjective opinion, including witnesses?

Time Frame
How quickly do you expect a resolution? It will depend on the conflict, of course, but what would be considered too hasty or too late?

Acceptance
Once a resolution has been arrived at, how can you ensure that the conflict does not arise again? How can the team ensure that it is a lasting resolution?

Think not only about your approach to resolving conflict within the team, but also between your team and others teams in the overall organization.

Product

This applies to both products and to services. First identify the team’s most important products and services. These are your deliverables to other organizations inside of the company – internal customers – and to those outside of the company – external customers. 

Keep in mind that the team is not only providing products and services, it is also receiving them. You are not only supplier, but also customer. So think also about the deliverables you receive, as a customer within the company, and as a customer to external supppliers.

Efficiency
What makes these products/services efficient? 

Intelligence
What is the right level of intelligence for these products/services?

Reliability
How reliable should they be? What does reliable mean?

Durability
How long-lasting should the products/services be? Can you quantify durability?

Quality
This is a broad, complex term. Define quality for the products/services you identified.

Processes

Your team has many processes. But which of them are truly essential? Identify them. Then address the following questions:

Success Factor
To what degree is each of these key processes a contributor to overall success?

Deductive vs. Inductive
How closely linked is the respective process to your day-to-day work? Is it flexible? Can it be modified to the realities of your work? Or is it theoretical, abstract, detached from the realities “on the ground”?

Guaranty vs. Tool
Is the individual process a guaranty of good results or is it more or less a tool, which can be used and abused in order to get the job done?

Power and Influence
Because processes determine how the work is done, they are the internal rules of the game. Whoever has the say about the rules has the say about how the game is played. Identify if, when and how your key processes are being misused based on internal power struggles. Then decide how to reduce that misuse.

Customer

As a team you operate in a web of customer-supplier relationships. Both inside and outside of the company. You need max. clarity on those business relationships. Identify your most important relationships, whether you are customer or supplier.

Consult vs. Serve
When should the respective relationship be driven more by a consult or serve approach? In other words, when should the team, as a supplier, operate more in the consulting or in the serving mode? And then where the team is clearly the customer, what do you prefer more, to be consulted or to be served?

Expectations
This is a wide-ranging term. Focus on the balance between schedule, budget and quality, the so-called golden triangle. Look at each of those key business relationships, whether you are customer or supplier. Which is most important: schedule, budget or quality? And why? In difficult situations, which of the three are you most willing to sacrifice or to compromise? Which factor should never be compromised?

Collaboration
This, too, is a wide-ranging term. Focus on the following essential question: When should the team – as a supplier – allow its customers – internal or external – to influence how you do your work, in other words your internal processes? Now flip it around. In those relationships, in which you are the customer, when does it makes sense for you as a team to exert influence on how your suppliers do their work, in other words how they serve you?

Think not only about your approach to resolving conflict within the team, but also between your team and others teams in the overall organization.

Back to Step 3 – Apply.
Back to Three Steps.

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