Last Friday, I ran a project planning session for a major UK retailer. The aim of the project is to run a trial to rapidly grow sales in one of the retailer’s most important categories.


Identifying the specific capabilities that need developing and improving was a critical task of the planning process. We were able to carry out that analysis in around one hour with a cross-functional team. Here’s how:


Agree the Capabilities.

The group brainstormed answers to the question: What does the business need to be great at to achieve high sales in this category? The group produced a long list of answers, but we were able to group them into six key capability themes.


Assess Your Current Position.

We then scored each of the six capabilities. I suppose that you could use any scoring system, but we used a simple assessment and scored each capability as either Poor, OK, Good and Excellent. Even this simple approach generated some great discussion across the team and identified differences in opinion.


Establish Future Targets.

We then discussed how far we wanted to improve each capability through our 12-week trial. For some capabilities we agreed that it wouldn’t be possible to see too much movement in such a short time, but for others we realised that we could be more ambitious. We used the previous scoring system to establish the goals and were able to see where we had the biggest gaps between current and future positions and where the team need to focus their efforts.


Develop Action Plans.

For the three priority capabilities where the team agreed they wanted to take action, we concluded the hour-long exercise by agreeing the actions required to deliver the improvements the team wanted to see. We also identified owners for each of the actions and set a timetable for delivery.


We undertook this exercise as part of a project planning session, but you could apply the same approach to assessing an operational team’s capabilities. Even though the whole work took less than 60 minutes, the team were confident that they had identified all the relevant key capabilities and were satisfied that the actions they set out will significantly improve performance.


At your next team meeting or project planning session, why don’t you try this exercise and understand what you really need to do to improve your team’s capabilities?


© Stuart Cross 2019. All rights reserved.