A team's work can only be as good as the weakest link in the chain. That's why in any activity, good planning and adequate participation by each member is needed to make sure that you succeed. In an imperfect world, nothing is bound to be perfect, but with good planning and teamwork, a group can achieve great feats.
Here are a few tips in planning and organizing your team's activities.
- Select a good leader. A leader doesn't have to know everything and do everything. The most important characteristic of a leader is knowing the strengths and weaknesses of each member of a team, and using the strengths to the advantage of the group.
- List tasks and milestones. Before starting an activity, be sure you plan the details. This includes each small task, and bigger milestones. List these down, and make sure each person has a list of the tasks that the group has to do. The leader should be able to have a good big-picture perspective, so he knows if he needs to assign certain specific tasks to any particular person.
- Assign specific tasks. Once the tasks have been identified, the leader should be able to delegate these according to the abilities and skills of each member. The tasks may not necessarily be distributed equally, but rather equitably, with each person doing what he can best do.
- Keep communicating. Another big responsibility of the leader is knowing what is happening and where, at any given time. He should be able to talk to everyone, or at least point persons from each sub-group, if the group is a big one. Each member should also communicate to others, especially when in need of assistance in one particular task.
- Use collaborative applications. This is especially useful if you are forming a group of mostly online people. You can use collaborative software like wikis, online spreadsheets, online task lists and instant messaging applications to collaborate online. Offline collaboration tools include project planners, task lists and assignment lists. The common denominator here is that you are able to use whatever resources you have available in order to communicate properly, and get things done.
- Set targets, and set these ahead of the deadline. Give allowance for adjustments, delays, and other unforeseeable events that might lead to problems in the course of the activity. It's a good idea to plan completion of an activity at least 20% ahead of schedule, so you have a good allowance to work with, in case an individual or sub-group is unable to deliver results within their deadline.
- Have a backup plan. We don't live in a perfect place, after all. So something is bound to go awry whether or not you let it. And so it's a good idea to have a backup plan, in case something goes wrong. Have alternative means and methodologies to arrive at your goal.
A big part of planning and organization is communication. A group also has to be ready for any occurrence, whether expected or unexpected. Therefore you should have a definite plan of action, but also be prepared to deviate from this, when needed, but still arriving at the same end result.