Saturday, February 13, 2010

Create the Real-World Dream Teams! (7/12)

Last time (“Share the Idea with the Customers”), the FAC (facilitator) became outward-bound and took the idea of the knowledge-sharing program from within the confines of the EF (entrepreneurial firm) to the customer. And he did a good job indeed of explaining the program and achieving the customer’s interest!

A big question looms, still to be answered. Who are the best people to participate, both on the part of the EF and the part of the customer, and how should they be selected?

First and foremost, the participants should be people who are adept at the skills of true dialogue. They realize that dialogue is about new knowledge and insights derived – about sharing. They know that even doubts, uncertainties, assumptions, questions, fears, suggestions – even our wildest ideas – are an essential part of true dialogue.

To maintain focus on the knowledge-sharing goal of the program, and not on the preferences of any one individual, the participants need to put aside their own personal preconceptions. They must be willing to express opinions yet, at the same time, be able to listen with an open mind.

On the part of the customer, the team members will represent a good cross-section of disciplines. Representatives from engineering, product development, planning, finance, operations and program management will likely provide excellent overall commentary relative to the customer’s business environment. Each will possess a breadth of perspective about his company’s big-picture existence. In addition, each will possess a depth of knowledge and expertise about his own discipline.

On the part of the EF, there will be two participants in the initial knowledge-sharing meetings with the customer. The EF’s strategic technology or product planner, referred to here as the “guru,” is one participant. This person’s insight into current and emerging technologies, in combination with his awareness of overall business issues, facilitates discussion of real-world, content-rich, future developments.

The second representative of the EF is the FAC. In his continuing role as the “big-picture” advocate, the FAC’s experience, awareness and knowledge of business issues and operations helps to keep the conversations on-track during the course of the initial knowledge-sharing meetings. His grasp of technical topics, in addition, must be of a level to allow understanding of top-level technical issues. The FAC is the one who proposed the meetings and made commitments about them to the customer; he is there to make good on his promises of program value.

Now that we have the teams all lined up – and eager to participate – we need to set the kickoff-meeting wheels in motion. More about that next time.

Part 7 of 12, Lyn Gosz, Gosz Group Technology Planners