Design Your Team

Ok, so you have successfully defined your business challenge. And by that I mean you have:

  • Summarized your business strategy
  • Created your Strategic Roadmap

Hopefully, these are now clear enough for you to move onto this next step, which is none other than to design a team to tackle this business challenge.

At this point, I tend to get a lot of questions about whether this will not vary too much depending on what type of business challenge you have. And actually, I always find it’s pretty much the same. It’s just the content is unique to what you want to build.

Given your building a business team, it is very likely you will focus on a challenge within one of seven business areas:

  • Commercial: gain and maintain client relations
  • Organization: improve the company’s structure, processes, and people
  • Administrative: manage processes and make sure information is available when needed
  • Technology: make business processes more effective and efficient
  • Judicial: make sure products meet law requirements
  • Financial: make sure the company has the money to keep going
  • Innovation: improve or get new products to market

Yes, you may need to build a team that focuses on several of these areas, or even all of them in the case of a startup. The more diverse your business challenge, the more diverse your team will need to be. 

With this in mind, it’s understandable investors emphasize the importance of the team when deciding to invest. It’s not the same to design a small team within a corporate environment as it is to design a team that needs to take on the world on its own.

Regardless of your business challenge, there are three things to take into account when designing your team:

  • Workflows: the actions that need to be executed
  • Roles: the skills you need to execute them 
  • Pace: the speed at which your team need to create deliverables 

In the next two videos, I will explain how to map your processes and how to define roles.

Think In Workflows

The first thing to think about when designing your team is what are you going to need them to do.

Your team will need to execute different actions depending on the business challenge. For example, you’ll need different roles if you are working on marketing and sales versus product innovation challenges. Both will need product understanding, communication skills, and content expertise, but the balance between them is different depending on the challenge.

So the first thing you want to do is map out the processes you want your team to execute. This will help you identify the different roles you need on the team.

Why is mapping your processes important?
It will help you prioritize work, coordinate team actions, and monitor performance when the ball starts to roll. But we will dive into this in the course Building High-Performing Teams. 

For now, let’s focus on how to map out a process. 

Process mapping is a bit like creating the Strategic Roadmap.

A process structure consists of three elements:

  1. Objectives: why you want to execute this process
  2. Actions: what deliverable do you want to create
  3. Roles: who needs to execute the tasks

The objective is the reason why you need the process, it’s the result you can expect if the process is done correctly. 

The actions are the tasks you need to complete to reach the goal. I find that it helps to write them down starting with an action word and keep them as short as possible, say a max of seven words, to maintain clarity.

Roles define who in the team needs to execute the action.  

Identify Team Roles

Now that you have your processes mapped out, you have a list of all the key activities you want your team to carry out. You can use that list of activities to define what type of roles you would need on your team to execute the actions.

We are going to create a table that maps the process tasks versus the roles you need to complete them. It’s pretty straight forward to build.

  1. First the rows: Take the tasks in your process and create one row for each deliverable
  2. Second the columns: Go to the first deliverable on the list and add a column for each role that is needed to complete the task. Go through all the deliverables, and if a deliverable needs a role you haven’t added to the matrix, then add the role as a new column.

That’s it, you now have a matrix with your process deliverables as rows and the roles you need to complete them as columns.

In the example of landing the first monkey on the moon, training the monkeys might look something like this.

Now you need clarify which roles need to be involved in each deliverable. For that we are going to fill the matrix cells with the degree of involvement the role has in a task.

Each role can be one of three things: 

  1. Responsible: the one that executes the deliverable
  2. Support: those that contribute to complete the deliverable
  3. Input: those that are updated on the progress and asked for feedback on the planning

If the role is not needed for the deliverable, then just leave the cell blank.

Now, you can chose to have every role involved in every activity someway or another, but that would probably drastically slow your team down. The more roles involved in tasks the more complex, and you want to keep your team interactions as simple as possible so they can execute quickly.

Set Delivery PACE

Now that we have the processes and team roles clear, next up is to decide at what pace we want our team to work.

The formula to calculate delivery pace is straightforward: Pace = Deliverable ÷ Time


  • Deliverable is something your team creates during a process.
  • Time is how many hours your team needs to deliver.

This part is always tricky.

You don't want to be too optimistic about how quickly deliverables can get done. If you do that, your team will have a hard time keeping up. They will gradually start to deliver lower quality or even burn out altogether.

You also don’t want to be too pessimistic with your estimates. If you do that, then you might be misguided by numbers to hire more people than you need to get the job done.

I created a Work Stream Pace sheet to help you estimate how many hours each team role is involved in a deliverable.

It works like this:

  • Deliverables: take all the deliverables you identified in the Team Roles sheet and fill them in the row headers.
  • Team roles: take all the team roles you identified in the Team Roles sheet and fill them in the column headers.
  • Time: fill in how much time you estimate each role should spend on each deliverable. If one of the roles is not involved in a deliverable, then leave the cell blank.

And that’s it. You just set your estimated delivery pace for each of the deliverables. We will be using these numbers in the next module, Find Your Fit.

This is the first of a three course series

A series of online courses to help innovators design strong teams able to tackle their business challenge.

Team-Challenge Fit

Define your dot on the horizon and clarify the team roles you'll need to get there.

SIgn up

Team Branding

Create a code your team can follow to nurture a strong team culture.

Coming 2022

Team Performance

Choose your team tactics and track progress to improve results.

Coming 2022

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