Separating Deliverables from Effort - Part IV - Keys to Making It Work

This is part four of a four part series that dives into the operating model of separating deliverables from effort, and how PS teams can benefit from greater collaboration and accountability using this model. The four parts are:
  1. Separating Deliverables from Effort - How to Eliminate "Tossing Over of the Fence" Mentality
  2. Separating Deliverables from Effort - An Example in Real Life
  3. Separating Deliverables from Effort - Keys to Making It Work
  4. Separating Deliverables from Effort - Why it's Worth It

I'm constantly reminded of a quote from US President Theodore Roosevelt: "Nothing Worth Having Comes Easy"

I honestly believe this operating model is the foundation of a PS team that constantly learns and grows. Opeating in this manner certainly is more complex than just assigning accounts to people. It requires planning, clear and plain communication, constant monitoring and maintenance, and fine tuning to the changing dynamics of a team. 

As a professional services leader, I have considered it my most important responsibility to build the best team to serve our customers. Any type of team restructuring will change the dynamics of an existing team, so I'm cognizant of the need to be empathetic, yet decisive when making structural changes to the team. Below are a few keys to success in adopting this operational model:

  1. Balancing Diversity with Respect - To start, designate "pods", with each pod comprised of one member of each role (solutioner, planner, executor, and/or supporter). While it is important to team up people who usually have different opinions and approaches (to ensure a diversity of voices within the team), it is equally important to team up people who have a mutual respect for each other. I'm not just referring to a respect for the work someone does. I'm referring to respect for each other on a human level. A team must argue amongst itself, but it cannot be effective if arguments devolve into personal attacks.
  2. It's Not a Reporting Structure - It's important for the team to know that everyone on the team remain peers, and no one person is superior to another by virtue of their role. This means that the solutioner doesn't always trump the planner, and the planner isn't always superior to the executor, and so on. The team is put together to collaborate and grow.
  3. Win as a Team, Lose as a Team - If the team understands that they are equally responsible for winning and losing, then being true participants in each other's deliverables become second nature. Dispensing with individual wins and losses is the only way to rid the team of the "tossing over the fence" mentality
  4. Lead by Guiding and Reinforcement - As a leader, it's critically important to be involved in all the teams during the initial formation. As with any organizational change, team members need guidance and reassurance throughout the process. Over time, the training wheels can come off. At the outset, you must be available to hear concerns, be hands-on to facilitate discussions and conflict, and be decisive to adjust team parameters if necessary. 

The keys are by no means exhaustive. Each team is unique and the dynamics really depend on a variety of factors that include personalities, organizational objectives, client profiles, and the like. Use the operational model as a foundation, and adjust as you go along. The only key mantra that never changes is:

  • Each role is uniquely accountable for their deliverables
  • Every role shares the effort that drive the deliverables

If you've found this guide useful, or have any comments, I would love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me at