How to create a team strategy document—use the team

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In my previous post, I discussed the expectations that any team manager should have some sort of team strategy document.  This is a key deliverable of any manager.  OK, so how do you create one?

The operative word in the term “Team Strategy Document” is the word “Team.”  Use your team to create the team strategy document.  The manager who doesn’t use the team will create a manager strategy document, which will reflect the manager’s view of the world, and not the team.  The team will ignore it, and therefore it is not a team strategy document.

So here’s how you do it:

1. Have a team meeting with the objective of creating a team strategy document

Don’t do the usual agenda items like updates.  Those are likely boring anyway.  This meeting should be focused on the team strategy document, and the objective is to have enough information to create a document.

2. Set up the meeting to be collaborative and brainstorming

Many team meetings end up being one person (perhaps the manager?) giving various status updates, news from above.  This meeting needs to be different.  It needs to require input from everyone on the team, even the quiet ones and the ones who possibly think team meetings are useless.  Say, “In today’s meeting, I’m going to ask all of you to provide your input.  This is an opportunity to think creatively and to get our ideas out. I welcome all ideas, and later we will hone it down and consolidate.”

In addition, find some tools to allow everyone on the team to provide input.  If you’re serious about getting input from the entire team, do not just stand in front of the white board and ask people to shout suggestions during brainstorming. Instead, I suggest getting a pen and paper or Post-It notes in each person’s hand.  Bring these tools to the meeting.

3. Identify the components that you want to have filled out in the team document

In my previous post, I’ve suggested specific fields for the team strategy document, but you may want additional fields.  You can start by putting up on the white board or projector the following components of team strategy document.  Feel free to add your own.


4. Ask your team to identify any other components that they think should be on the team strategy document

You may think that you know all of the components that should be on the team strategy document, but if you don’t ask your team, then it isn’t much of a team strategy document, is it?  Ask your team to write down at least two additional components they think should be on the team strategy document, but no more than four.  Don’t worry, you don’t have to add all of them; you’ll be able to narrow them down later.

5. Ask the team members to attempt to fill out the posted components, starting with the team name

Start with the team name?  Yes!  Requiring that each team member write down what they think the team name is – something so simple – reveals the diverse viewpoints of how the team members view the team.   Then have them give the responses to you.

6. Share the diverse answers with the rest of the team and have them vote for their preferred.

Yes, I’m still talking only about the team name.  Yes, this is very basic, but if you read off what people have written down, the rest of the team will perceive the diversity of thinking about what the team name is.  Now you can guide them through a process of providing input on what the team name ought to be.  You can reserve the right to make the final decision (or use a different decision-making process).   Examples of decision making processes are voting, writing down the favorite, asking for the team to discuss it and come up with the preferred, and the like.

7. Continue down the list of components on the team strategy document, asking for input.

Repeating the process of having the team brainstorm items on the team strategy document, you will see many ideas that you never thought of, and so will the rest of the team.  You may not be able to get through all of them during one team meeting, but there is usually another one scheduled, and creating the team strategy document is a useful exercise for a team meeting.

8. Continue to ask the team to provide input of their preferred responses

One advantage of having Post-it notes is that you can have each of the brainstormed items placed on a board, and each member can look at all of the responses in rapid form.  Additionally, you can ask each team member put a dot, or vote for the items they think are the most pertinent or best.  This way you have the team perspective.   I don’t recommend asking the team to share verbally because this immediately places preference to those who are more extroverted over those who are more introverted.

So after a few team meetings, you probably have the raw material for a team strategy document.  You’ll have the perspective of the team, and you’ll probably see a lot of diversity in thinking, and perhaps notice many of the holes in the strategy, and how the team may not actually know what it’s trying to accomplish.

It’s a great process to learn a lot about your team and to set the strategy going forward, using the collective wisdom of your team.  Now go to it and get one of your manager deliverables completed!

Related Articles:

Think of managing a team as a set of deliverables

Teams should have a team strategy document. Here’s an example.

Strive toward strategic placement of employees based on organizational need

Criteria to generate a virtuous cycle for meetings

A leading indicator for team performance: Chart your meeting quality

Nine simple tips to make meetings more compelling


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About Walter Oelwein
Walter Oelwein, CMC, CPT, helps managers become better at managing. To do this, he founded Business Performance Consulting, LLC .

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