PSIU Lesson 5 of 7: How to Predict Team Problems in Advance2021-02-17T08:40:34-08:00

Imagine that you’re a department manager and you’re putting together a new project team. You want results fast and so you put together a team of 4 Big Producers (PPPP). These are individuals who thrive on working hard towards an immediate objective. You form the team, give them clear instructions, and 2 weeks later you host a project meeting to get an update.

You: “What’s the status on the ACME project?”
Them (PPPP): “We’re done! What’s next?”
OK, now what do you think you’ll discover when you look under the hood of this project? Is it really done done? No! You’ll find a lot of errors and poor quality. They missed the big picture and the team is already starting to wear thin because there’s no real vision, unification, or processes holding things together.

Now imagine the same project, but this time you form a team with 4 Big Stabilizers (SSSS). This time, your intuition tells you to give them an extra week before hosting the project status meeting.

You: “What’s the status on the ACME project?”
Them (SSSS): “Well, we’ve done a lot of research and we have some bad news. As you’ll see from this GANT Chart and RACI matrix, we’ve run into some obstacles. We’ll need some more time before we can get back to you with a realistic forecast.”
Now imagine the same project again, but this time you form a team with 4 Big Innovators (IIII). You again check in on the project status.

You: “What’s the status on the ACME project?”
Them (IIII): “Bill and Bob quit. Jack and I are working through the project vision but we have some disagreements on the best path forward. Honestly, I think that Jack just doesn’t see the vision the same way I do.”
Last example. You form up a new team with 4 Big Unifiers (UUUU):

You: “What’s the status on the ACME project?”
Them (UUUU): “Well, we’ve been busy getting to know one another. Honestly, it’s been a lot of fun. We’ve got some great people working here. Do you want to join us for drinks after work?”
You: “OK, but what’s the status on the ACME project? I need to see some tangible results fast.”
And watch, as you put continued pressure on this team of all Unifiers, that what seemed like great teamwork and camaraderie quickly turns into a toxic sludge fest of finger pointing and blame about why the project isn’t making progress.

So you’re a smart manager and you obviously wouldn’t create one of these mythically bad teams of all one style. You already know that, just like a great marriage, a high-performing team requires complementary styles. The right mix of PSIU or Producing, Stabilizing, Innovating, and Unifying.

However, you can tell team problems in advance by looking at your mix of teammates. Who’s the leader? Which style are they expressing? Do they have the right complementary styles around them? Should you change leaders? Should you add a new style to the mix to create greater focus, or throughput, or quality, or creativity?

The answers for each team situation will be different but the questioning and the framework of understanding using the PSIU model are priceless. It allows you with great certainty to peer into the future and anticipate how things will unfold, giving you the clarity and confidence to make changes up front.

To your success,

Lex Sisney
Organizational Physics