The Tiger Team’s Roar: Making Decisions and Getting Things Done

Best Practices : Article

Julie Utano, Managing Director, Virtual Inc.
Bob Olson, Director, Public Relations, Virtual, Inc.

In Association Management 101 you learn that traditional standing committees are the backbone of every professional society. The work done there is essential and invaluable. So, when we have a project/task to complete our first thought is to send it to a committee to tackle. Right?

Well, . . . not always.

Case in point:  One association has been working hard at promoting the value of their profession. They wanted to see if they could gather data on how they had improved patient care in hospitals. Instead of sending it directly to a committee to tackle and wait weeks or months for a report, they decided to form a Tiger Team of  four-five individuals to figure out if the approach made sense and if there was data to support it. The association reached out to four individuals who they thought were in the best position to be part of the Tiger Team. The ask was approximately 1 hour per week of time – called “sprints” — for two-three weeks – everyone said yes!

Sprint One and Sprint Two

The project was clearly outlined to the team.

  • Sprint One: Assess the projects viability and make a go/no go decision. If they discovered they couldn’t get the data or it didn’t make sense to move forward for other reasons, they could kill the project.
  • Sprint Two If the project was a go, then they would identify the necessary data and assign tasks.

Two, 45-minute sprints later, the group has the following answers:

  1. Yes, the project was feasible for the organization
  2. Yes, they were able to identify needed data and where to find it. In this case, they had identified the top 10 hospitals in the nation and contacts they had at each.

The Tiger’s Tale

The moral of the story is that sometimes we get so caught up in how we typically tackle projects we automatically follow well-trodden protocol and process. We forget that we can quickly solve problems/kick-off programs if we use a smaller, nimbler group first. Sometimes less really is more.  Tiger Teams don’t erode the value of the committee. Rather for specific projects it gives the committee guidance, data, and a clear path to follow. You can make decisions and get a lot done with two, 45-minute meetings or sprints with the right people in the room.

(Cue roaring tiger sound effect)

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