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Scenario:

Teams A, B, and C all report up through the same organization and each has its own manager and lead(s). The teams work closely together to perform related but distinct functions, and each has responsibilities that involve communicating with stakeholders outside the company. The personnel on each team has been relatively stable for years, and there is a good understanding of which team is responsible for which tasks, what handoffs exist, and how to present a consistent external message that is critical for continued customer satisfaction.

At some point, the powers that be determine that they haven't appeared to do anything in a while so decide to reorganize the company. Now, each of the teams reports through a different organization. Additionally, the new management of team B decides to radically change the work statement of each member, so that instead of having specialized roles for specific tasks each member is responsible for a share of all the tasks. The veterans of team B are unhappy with this change, and suddenly there is significant management and technical turnover in team B.

Meanwhile, teams A and C continue to perform their well established tasks, and are fortunate to have developed and documented over the years robust processes from which they derive authority. But they begin to notice when interacting with team B that handoffs are getting missed or lost. The normal handoff path has always been A->B->C but suddenly the middle portion is inconsistent at best, a black hole at worst. Members of teams A and C are finding that in order to try to maintain the consistent external message they must often perform the work of team B despite not having the bandwidth or authority to do so.

Team A decides to convene a working group to reestablish the handoff chain and formalize the collaboration. Managers and leads from all three teams are invited and in the first meeting all acknowledge that there is a problem and commit to helping work towards a solution. However, by the next meeting the members of team B who made that commitment are no longer there. The working group goes in circles for weeks, but team B no longer has enough knowledgeable leadership to even know where to start. Unlike teams A and C, team B does not have centralized process/authority documentation and has relied on tribal knowledge.

Meanwhile, cracks are beginning to form in the external message. Discrepancies are no longer able to be resolved in a consistent and timely manner. Incorrect information is being communicated and rework is mounting. The risk to customer satisfaction, and thus the continued viability of the company, is high. Team B is frustrated and overworked, but their authority to solve these problems cannot be delegated. Teams A and C are becoming increasingly frustrated with team B.

Question:

A member of team A has a documented annual performance goal of establishing and publishing a formal collaboration process (signed by leadership of teams A, B, and C) that defines the handoffs and establishes a consistent framework for resolving issues. Success will be measured by adherence to the process via logging the status of issues as they move through it. What can that team member do in this situation to meet that goal?

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  • mgmt has to sign on to a full-on intervention... firefight and rebuild B at the same time. If A and C have successful documented process-oriented system at least that concept doesn't have to be sold. Do it soon before broken B discredits A and C's process... after that point they may junk all 3 // member of A can't do it, needs to be someone with authority to completely reorg B including hire/fire
    – Pete W
    Jul 2 at 2:22
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Two things jumped out to me:

  • significant management and technical turnover in team B

  • teams A and C [...] perform the work of team B despite not having the bandwidth or authority

I'm assuming team B reached a critical failure threshold and is no longer functioning, and is unable to fix itself due to loss of expertise. Given the dependency of A->B->C, this will ultimately lead to complete organizational failure.

So here are things to look at:

  • Does upper management of team B acknowledge the issue? Do they have a plan to solve the problem?

You'll never be able to solve upper-management issues from below, so if they are not addressing the issue, then time to jump ship before the whole thing implodes.

  • If upper management is addressing the problem, are they bringing in expertise from A and C?

Since A and C can actually perform functions of B, but primarily lacks bandwidth and authority, another reorg is in the works to bring B back into operational status. Again, this solution needs to come from upper management and you plan your next move accordingly.

This is mission critical stuff, and requires someone with real authority for hire/fire as per @PeteW, and also to say "You guys from Team A and C, you're now part of Team B". The dysfunction of team B will not resolve without serious "surgery"; it is literally on life support, and it's taking out team A and C with it.

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You question seems to be around a performance goal that seems to be unattainable.

If you tried forming a working group and that was unsuccessful, then it's time to involve upper management. They have the authority to restructure things.

Team B is frustrated and overworked

Clearly management needs to look at resourcing as it appears that Team B needs more resources. No amount of documentation around processes is going to give them more capacity to work.

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