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Executive Team Boosts Ways of Working by 16% in Just 12 Weeks!

‘I survived another meeting that should have been an email!’ Does that ring true for you? If so, take inspiration from one leader who was inspired to tackle ways of working head on. The results achieved were surprising.

What was the problem or opportunity?

Known for his love of coffee, the manager had two mugs on his desk. In bold letters the first mug proclaimed ‘I survived another meeting that should have been an email’.  It was evidence of mounting frustration with the time consumed by meetings and other forms of internal collaboration.

The data revealed that executives were spending up to 65% of their time on internal collaboration incl. meetings and workshops, emails and IMs etc. As a result they had little focused or uninterrupted time to get their own work done and in particular to attend to key priorities.

This ‘internal collaboration overload’ had been compounded by the increased pressure on short-term performance, a proliferation of projects and priorities and scarce resources. Also, hybrid working.

What was the solution?

The second mug on the manager’s desk revealed the solution. It was an ever-present reminder of the requirements of effective collaboration.

This mug had a visual of the 9Rs that define ways of working for a project or team. These include having Right People in the Right Roles doing the Right Work, and so on. 

A particular Importance to the team was the right roles the right resources, as well as the right work and the right results.  All of these factors have been rated in the low 60s by the team and it’s internal stakeholders (based on Pitstop AnalyticsTM data).

What were the steps involved?

Creating front-of-mind awareness of the 9R’s was an important first step. This began with a review of the team’s data.

The team adopted the 9Rs checklist to plan and review collaborative (as well as individual) work.  That includes every time the team works together on a project, has a meeting or a workshop. 

The team track the 9Rs using an app – thereby providing evidence of progress. Posters and mugs of the 9 Rs were used to remind people.

Short workshops were offered to provide tools and techniques to address any of the 9Rs important to the team.  For example to clarify roles and responsibilities, clarify the right results, make more time for focused work, etc.

A particular focus for the team was the amount of time is spent on low value work. That is work that should be delegated, automated, delayed or simply scrapped.

Also of primary importance was a lack of clarity and alignment in respect of the right results with a proliferation of priorities competing for time and attention.  This was the result of the team struggling to manage its key stakeholders and a culture where everything was seen as urgent.

The team also attended to the level of ambiguity regarding roles within the team.  This sometimes resulted in gaps and overlaps, even occasional role conflict.

What was the goal?

A goal was set to improve ways of working by up to 20% over a period of 12 weeks

‘As a team we have little control over the market or the targets set or the organization’s strategy’ said the leader. ‘What we can control however (and it is no small thing) is how we work together as a team.  How we organize our work, how we collaborate and how we interact – these matters not just in terms of productivity and efficiency but bringing out the best in each other and creating a positive and supportive work environment’ she added.

What benefits were realized?

Executive team boosts ways of working by 16% in just 12 weeks! That was a few % short of the goal set, but something that the team was very proud of. It was the motivation to strive for further improvements.

It was estimates that the improvements made to ways of working were saving 2 plus hours per week per team member. That is more than 5% of the working week and time that could be better spent doing more important work.

Pressure was reduced by 7% and vitality improved by 5%. These gains, while marginal, were important for a team operating in a high-pressure environment with lots of change and uncertainty.

The quality of interactions went up by 20%, while the number of unwanted interruptions fell by 15%.

Within 8 months the leaders of other departments and functions were referring to the team as ‘Super Collaborators’!

Concerned or curious about your team’s ways of working? Talk to us.

A lot of people talk about Ways of Working, but what exactly does it mean? More importantly, how to improve it?

Based on extensive data and research we have developed the only operational definition of ways of working, compete a methodology and toolkit to measures, quantify and optimize Ways of Working and interacting within projects and teams. 

Image:for mug sayng ‘…should have been an email’ was sourced from

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