Quality improvement principles will provide state government the
tools to continuously improve the products, services, and information
it provides to the citizens of North Carolina. An
important aspect of quality improvement is the establishment of
improvement teams. An improvement team is a group of individuals
working toward a common goal to make an improvement or solve a problem.
These teams will address improvement opportunities and problems
that impact customer satisfaction, organizational effectiveness,
and organizational efficiency. A team charter is a document that
helps the team by clearly identifying the opportunity or problem,
the actions the team will take, and the limitations of the project.
This guide will assist with project identification,
role definition, charter development, and other steps in the team
Both private and public sector organizations are realizing the
value of teams and are using teams in many, and in some cases all,
of their operations. Teams are a valuable resource for breaking
down barriers, fostering creativity, and improving work processes.
Each department or agency needs to clarify how it will create
improvement teams. Team success can be greatly enhanced if steps
are taken to ensure that key organizational issues are dealt with
effectively. The team chartering process will address:
- When to create a team;
- How team members are selected;
- Who should be on the team;
- The tasks and responsibilities of the team;
- The extent of the team's authority; and
- Support available to the team.
Before an improvement team begins
working, make sure the following steps have been completed:
- Identify a Team Sponsor
- Identify a suitable project
- Develop a Team Charter
- Identify stakeholders and develop
a Communication Plan
- Select team members
- Organize the team's first meeting
Completing these steps before the improvement
team begins working on their project will help ensure the
team is successful.
Definition of Terms
Continuous Improvement Process: a detailed method that
guides a team through a series of steps to identify and implement
improvements, solve problems, or create new processes.
- Customers: direct recipients of the products, services,
or information an organization produces.
Facilitator: a skilled communicator who is knowledgeable
about group processes and interaction as well as quality principles
and process improvement. Facilitators guide teams in effective
Leadership: the senior leaders or decision makers in an
Outputs: the products, services, or information produced
by a process.
Process: a series of steps taken to produce an output
(product, service, or information).
Process Owner: the individual who is ultimately
responsible for a process as well as process performance and results.
Quality: the goodness of outputs or results as perceived
by customers. Meeting or exceeding customer needs, expectations,
Sponsor: the individual who provides support, guidance,
and mentoring for a team. Sponsors provide a link to organization
leadership, remove barriers, and acquire the necessary resources
for a team to be successful.
Stakeholders: individuals who have a vested interest,
or a stake, in a team's work. They may be affected by implementation
of a team's recommendations, or they may have a potential impact
on implementation of a team's recommendations.
Team: a group of individuals working together toward a
common goal. An improvement team is a group of individuals working
together to make an improvement or solve a problem.
Team Charter: a working document that is designed
to assist in defining the expectations for the work of a team
and in developing agreements that significantly impact team success.
When To Set Up An Improvement Team
- Potential reasons for setting up an improvement team are:
- Evidence suggests that the output of a process is failing to
meet customer needs and expectations.
- A work process is inefficient - as evidenced by rework, delays,
excessive cost, or chronic frustration.
- A work process needs fixing, and the job cannot be done effectively
by an individual.
- The work of a group is not well-organized and how the work
gets done is not well-defined or understood.
- An issue is complex enough that improvement would require input
from different work areas, disciplines, or agencies.
- Effective implementation of improvements depends upon a large
part of the organization and will require major coordination.
- There is a belief that even if the process doesn't have major
problems, it could be improved.
- The likely benefits of improvement substantially outweigh the
cost of continuing as-is.
Not Every Issue Requires A Formal Team
Not every issue requires a formal team - quality improvement principles,
processes, and tools can be used by people even if they are not
- Individuals should begin using flowcharts, cause and effect
diagrams, and the many other quality improvement tools in all
aspects of their jobs.
- Managers should encourage employees to begin using quality
improvement tools and techniques in their daily work.
- Decision makers should routinely request to see data from quality
improvement tools prior to making decisions.
- Informal groups should use tools and techniques as a natural
way of doing business.
Role Of Leadership
Leadership is defined as the senior leaders or decision makers
in the organization (department, division, section, or unit). Leadership
is responsible to the citizens of North Carolina for delivering
results consistent with the mission, or purpose, of the organization.
Leadership will have a major role in the early stages of establishing
teams. They will develop guidelines that will be used to create
improvement teams in the organization. They may even sponsor
some of the first projects in order to focus on the critical improvement
efforts of the organization (see page 5). As implementation continues,
leadership will work on strategic issues and on the key objectives
of the organization. Leadership will support teams by removing
barriers, providing resources, and endorsing team recommendations
for implementation. They should not, however, become too deeply
involved in the day-to-day details of each individual team's work.
Early on, leadership may select or approve initial improvement
projects. This should not be looked at as another layer of control,
but rather a means of assisting the team sponsor in making sure
the project proposal is well thought out and the project is consistent
with organizational objectives. It is also important for leadership
to ensure that the aspects of the project are not currently being
addressed by other means, the team charter does a good job of focusing
the project, and the project has a good chance of success.
The role of leadership at these early stages is that of student
and educator. Leadership acts as a student in that there
will be lessons learned with each team and these lessons should
be absorbed. Leadership acts as an educator in that they
will share lessons learned with others and will teach those involved
in the process so they may effectively use teams on their own in
Leadership's role will evolve as implementation continues. Leadership
will assess how the process is working and provide feedback, will
provide guidance on how to effectively create improvement teams,
and will follow up with lower levels in the organization to provide
them with assistance when needed. Leadership is able to offer information
that may help to avoid potential problems or provide insights that
enhance each team's ability to succeed. Leadership will also put
in place a monitoring process to identify what teams have been
created, the processes they are addressing, results of team efforts,
and a means of communicating lessons learned to the rest of the
organization. Finally, leadership will recognize teams for their
contributions to the organization and the improvement process.
Members of organization leadership can best carry out their responsibilities
when they have had experience serving as a team leader, a team member,
or a facilitator for an improvement team. This firsthand experience
is important in establishing credibility and providing effective
Role Of The Sponsor
Successful improvement teams are supported by a sponsor.
Sponsors serve as "champions" and provide support, guidance,
and mentoring throughout the life of a team. They help the team
translate the organization's mission, the purpose of the organization,
and vision, the desired future state of the organization, into action.
Sponsors also remove barriers and acquire the necessary resources
for the team to be successful. In many cases, the sponsor may
select the team members.
Specifically, team sponsors:
- Ensure support of supervisors!
- Take the lead in developing the team charter.
- Insulate the team from premature judgement.
- Provide a link between the team and organization leadership.
- Assist in the development of a communication strategy and communication
plans that address stakeholder needs.
- Act as a sounding board for team ideas.
- Remain in close contact with the team.
- Provide support to the team as needed, but do not get overly
involved in the details of the team's work.
- Help the team review progress periodically to ensure they are
moving toward the intended objectives.
Each department or agency needs to determine how it will identify
individuals to fill this critical role. The process owner,
the person ultimately responsible for process performance and results,
may be the ideal candidate for team sponsor for several reasons.
First, since they are responsible for results, they have a vested
interest in seeing the process improved. Second, they will have
valuable insights about process operation and process interactions
with the various work centers that affect or are affected by the
process. Third, they can provide the team access to people, information,
and resources related to the process.
The sponsor is encouraged to select the team facilitator (see page
15) early in the process and to ask him/her to help in setting up
the project and the team. The team facilitator is a resource that
helps guide the team in effective team processes. Skilled facilitators
will be able to provide sound advice and counsel based on their
knowledge and experience.
The sponsor should ensure that the team is enabled to do what it
was chartered to do. At the end of the improvement process, the
sponsor reviews the actions taken by the team and the recommendations
made by the team, and works with the team to ensure solutions
are effectively implemented.
Quality Resource Advisors
The Quality Resource Advisor is an internal consultant in the department
or agency who is familiar with quality improvement principles. He/She
can assist the team sponsor with the team chartering process and
can assist the team in understanding the charter, the purpose for
the project, the desired results, and team roles and responsibilities.
The Quality Resource Advisor supports the work of the team by matching
the needs of the team with available resources such as training
and facilitation. Quality Resource Advisors should be contacted
when quality resources are needed.
Stakeholders are individuals who have a vested interest in a
team's work, may be affected by implementation of a team's recommendations,
or may have an impact on implementation of a team's recommendations.
Customers fit the definition for stakeholder, but differ from stakeholders
in that they directly receive or use the products, services, or
information the organization produces and a stakeholder may not.
For example, if a team is working to improve a state government
agency's process for communicating with the public, a citizen who
contacts the agency for information is a customer (a direct recipient
of the service or information). A state government employee who
handles citizen requests for information at the agency is a stakeholder
since the process the employee uses to provide information may be
affected or changed by the team's recommendations.
Prior to beginning the improvement process, the team should identify
all stakeholders so stakeholder interests can be taken into consideration.
Stakeholders can assist the team by responding to requests for information,
providing input, or giving feedback. Stakeholders may be asked to
meet with the team to provide important information on work processes
or implications for implementation of recommendations. Stakeholders
may also be contacted to garner support for implementation.
Stakeholders should be informed of:
- The general project and the team's purpose;
- Specific information of interest to them;
- How they will be involved and when they can expect to be consulted;
- How communication will be structured; and
- Any other information they may request. .
How Are Team Projects Selected?
Teams are formed when a process needs to be improved or a problem
needs to be solved. This is best accomplished using the collective
experience, skills, and knowledge of a group. The process or problem
may be identified by:
- Process Owners;
- Work groups with representatives from different departments,
divisions, or sections;
- Managers and Employees; or
- Internal or External Stakeholders.
At first, because everyone is learning and there are limited resources
to support teams, leadership traditionally selects early projects.
Later, when more people have experience with teams and more teams
can be supported, formal consultation with leadership will be less
frequent. Keep in mind that teams require a substantial investment
of time and the organization should select only the number of projects
it can support well.
Leadership will always be a valuable resource to consult when selecting
projects. Their knowledge of lessons learned by past teams, their
unique perspective on organizational objectives, and their access
to resources will help any team achieve success. When a project
is large in scope or is cross-functional in nature (involves more
than one organizational unit), leadership will play a major role
in terms of project selection and monitoring. However, employees
desiring to solve problems and improve the quality of services within
their scope of responsibility will be able to do so with little
Each agency must develop a system for project selection that achieves
an appropriate balance between flexibility and control. Offering
an appropriate level of flexibility prevents the creation of barriers
that hamper team creativity and effectiveness. However, control
is important in ensuring that the team's activities are consistent
with organizational objectives and that resources are used wisely.
The best projects are ones that are connected to the key priorities
and objectives of the organization.
Getting Started: How to Select Your First Projects
Project Selection Worksheets
The Project Selection worksheets will
help you select an improvement project. Use the worksheets
- Select an output to improve.
- Identify what processes affect
the chosen output.
- Choose a process for improvement
based on established criteria.
- Clarify the steps of the chosen
- Determine who should be on the
- Solicit feedback on the project
When selecting a project, it is important to review the organization's
mission and vision, and follow the Continuous Improvement Process
to ensure the project is aligned with organizational objectives.
The Continuous Improvement Process is a detailed method that guides
a team through a series of steps to identify and implement improvements,
solve problems, or create new processes. The Team Chartering process
complements the Continuous Improvement Process by establishing a
framework for the project and by identifying key roles.
The Project Selection Worksheets and the Reality Check are tools
that can help you select a project and test project suitability.
Reality Check: Project Suitability
Use the three-part "reality check" to test project suitability
in terms of:
- Does the project have a customer focus?
- Is the project compatible with the mission and vision of the
- Does the project help the organization accomplish its mission
or move closer to its vision?
- Is the project something the department has control over, or
do other agencies have some involvement in it (i.e. own a piece
of the process being studied)?
- Is leadership willing to implement improvements on a pilot
basis, as long as the solution is within the guidelines and boundaries
given to the team?
- Assuming a successful pilot implementation, is leadership prepared
to implement the change on a full-scale or organization-wide basis?
- Are any preconceived solutions being forced upon the team?
- Is the organization prepared to allow the team members the
time they need to work on the project and make a difference? Will
the organization support adjustments to the team members' other
work assignments to accommodate their work on the team?
- Does the project deal with a process?
- Does the process occur frequently enough so it can be reliably
- Has the process recently been changed?
- Is the appropriate data available? Can data be gathered without
excessive time, effort, or expense?
- Can the project be completed within the desired time frame?
- Is the project urgent? Will there be enough time for the team
to do the work?
- Is there a good probability of success? (The team should avoid
trying to take on too much.)
It should become obvious after using the Reality Check whether
or not a proposed project has the potential to be a good project.
The Reality Check will also raise issues that should be addressed
to increase the chances for project success.
What Is A Team Charter?
The team charter is a working document that is designed to assist
the process owner, sponsor, facilitator, and team in defining the
expectations for the work of the team and in developing agreements
that significantly impact team success. It helps to ensure agreement
among everyone affected by the team's work (i.e. leadership, process
owner, sponsor, facilitator, team members, and stakeholders), keeps
the team focused on the original goal, and helps determine when
the team's work is complete.
Obstacles are a fact of life for teams. The charter is designed
to address the early obstacles teams encounter that directly affect
their success in achieving expected results. Generally, these relate
to teams needing:
A clear sense of direction. Teams lose their way when they
pursue inappropriate or ill-defined goals. There should be no confusion
about the team's fundamental reason for being formed. This includes
clear direction from the sponsor about the team's purpose and the
work to be accomplished by the team.
A clear understanding of stakeholders. Teams who have not
thought through the identification of stakeholders (see page 6)
for the process, problem, or implementation of recommendations may
not have a good understanding of the issues they will face when
they ask stakeholders to implement the team's recommendations.
What Does The Team Have Authority
The Team Charter should indicate
what the team is being asked to do. It should be very clear
on whether the team is enabled to implement the solution(s)
they develop or if they are just being asked to develop recommendations.
A discussion on this should take place between the sponsor
and the team members at their first meeting. Avoid any mis-understandings
by openly discussing the charter and documenting what has
been agreed upon.
A clear communication plan. Teams can significantly improve
results by developing a well-thought out communication strategy.
This strategy should be developed jointly by the team, process owner,
and sponsor. Teams must have clear communication plans that address
the needs of the process owner, sponsor, and critical stakeholders,
particularly at significant points in the team's work. This helps
the team gain and maintain the support and commitment of these key
individuals. Similarly, the sponsor has a responsibility to ensure
support for the team's work by communicating with leadership on
the team's purpose, progress, and recommendations.
The team charter should be drafted before team members have been
selected and should be clarified and negotiated with the team as
they begin work on the project. This applies regardless of whether
the team is being chartered by leadership or by a division or section
initiating their own effort. If a facilitator and team leader have
been selected, the sponsor is encouraged to involve them in the
team chartering process.
Essential Components Of A Team Charter
In addition to defining the task of the team, a team charter provides
a description of the process to be improved or problem to be solved,
and the time frame for project completion. Other essential components
of the team charter include:
- Background information on the project and why it is a high
- A clear definition of the scope of the project to include whether
the team will be able to pilot improvements or just make recommendations.
It should identify any other restrictions.
- A specific time when the process owner and/or sponsor meet
with the team to discuss the assignment and answer questions.
- The name of the process owner, the sponsor, the team leader,
and the facilitator.
- A list of team members.
- A list of resources likely to be required for the project.
- A list of potential stakeholders.
Developing A Communication Plan
The first step in establishing a communication strategy is to list
stakeholders. Then the team, sponsor, and process owner should come
to agreement on which key stakeholders the team should communicate
with over time. Once these key stakeholders have been identified,
the team should develop a communication plan that includes how stakeholders
will be involved in the improvement project, consulted at key points
during the work of the team, contacted for specific information,
or informed of the team's progress. The communication plan should
answer the following questions:
- What is the stakeholder's interest in the team's work?
- What information does the stakeholder need to know?
- When is the best time to inform them?
- How should they be informed?
- Which team member has the primary responsibility to inform
Once the team has drafted communication plans for each key stakeholder,
the plans should be reviewed by the sponsor and process owner to
make sure that all of the critical interests have been taken into
consideration. It is appropriate for the sponsor to have responsibility
for specific stakeholder groups such as leadership. The communication
plan is best monitored by making it a standing item at each team
Who Picks The Team Members?
The person or persons who pick team members depends on who is closest
to the process being improved, and who is the most knowledgeable
to make the decision. Leadership may be familiar enough with the
process to select the team members. Sometimes, people closer to
the process, such as the process owner, are needed to select the
team members and serve as the sponsor to ensure team success. In
all cases, there needs to be clear communication between the sponsor
(or leadership), the potential team members, and their supervisors
to make sure everyone understands the commitment needed and that
team members are willing and able to participate.
In some cases, the team itself may request additional members based
on analysis of the process. Reasons could include: a critical expertise
is lacking; a key organization is not represented; an especially
important stakeholder is desired; or one of the initial team members
can no longer contribute. Eventually, teams may form naturally and
select their own members.
Who Should Be On The Team?
Teams should have the complementary skills they need to do their
job. Team members should have job knowledge and technical, problem
solving and interpersonal skills. With the exception of specific
job knowledge and technical skills, most people can develop the
skills they need after they join a team.
Team performance improves when
members receive appropriate skills-building training shortly
before they attempt a new task. This training may include
guidance in using quality improvement tools and techniques,
as well as exploration of group interaction dynamics. Teams
also improve their chances for success when team members understand
quality improvement principles and know how to use the Continuous
Improvement Process. Please check with your Quality Resource
Advisor to identify training options available in your organization.
Team size is an important consideration to assure success. The
ideal size for an improvement team is 5-8 members. Larger teams
have more difficulty reaching consensus or making progress. Too
few members can limit the potential number of ideas or overburden
each individual. Please note that the team does not have to add
to its membership in order to gain access to needed individuals
(i.e. a stakeholder or an expert in a particular technique).
These individuals can be invited to attend a session or two when
their participation is most needed.
Having members with appropriate expertise will enhance the functioning
of the team as a whole. Team membership should include people
who have knowledge of the process under consideration. These
individuals clearly represent a program, office, or work unit significantly
affected by the process to be improved or the problem to be solved.
In addition, a member or two who have little or no knowledge
of the process can also be an asset, since they have no vested
interest in the way things currently operate. Their contribution
can be a fresh perspective on the process and the ability to clearly
see steps in the process that may not be adding value. If the team
is dealing with a tight deadline, a controversial subject, or some
other significant constraint, this may suggest that the team include
members whose team skills are already fully developed. It is always
helpful if all of the team members have basic knowledge and understanding
of quality improvement principles.
How To Select Team Members
Team member selection should occur only after clearly defining
the project and its scope to ensure the right people are chosen
for the team. For example, knowing where a process originates, where
it ends, and the different steps it takes along the way will serve
as a basis for determining the areas that should be represented
on the team. In addition, the sponsor should determine if there
are any special skills the team needs before making final selections.
Establishing a team whose members are enthusiastic goes a long
way in ensuring team effectiveness. In all cases, the members
should be willing to serve on the team - and not be there against
their will. Take time early in this process to be sure that all
the participants are aware of what will be involved. It works
best if the sponsor talks to each of the team members personally
about what the project will involve and their expectations.
It is also important that each team member have the support of
their supervisor. The role of the sponsor in securing this support
cannot be underestimated. The sponsor should meet with the potential
team member's immediate supervisor to discuss the member's participation
on the team to ensure that the supervisor understands the commitment
of time and effort that will be required, approves the member's
participation on the team, and commits to make adjustments in the
member's other work assignments, as needed.
It is generally not a good idea to ask for volunteers. You may
find that you have too many volunteers and, therefore, have to refuse
someone's help. You may also find that some of your volunteers don't
have the required knowledge, skills, abilities or supervisor support
that you are looking for. It is usually better to identify who would
best contribute to the team, and then discuss the opportunity with
them. At that point, they can volunteer or choose not to participate.
Willing and committed participation goes a long way in achieving
If there are a number of potential team members to choose from,
all of whom do the work and represent the entire process, there
should be additional thoughtful discussion as to which people to
select. Items to consider include:
- Does the person's job duties allow them the time needed to
serve on the team?
- Is the team diverse in terms of race, gender, geographical
location, or job classification?
- Does the team represent an appropriate cross-section of the
- Are any special skills needed for the team (i.e. computer skills,
statistical skills, etc.)?
Once team members have been selected, they need to realize there
are several roles to be filled and understood. This requires very
little work, but is an important step early in the process. It reduces
the number of times that people will say: "I didn't know I
was supposed to do that!"
It is the facilitator's job to explain all the roles to everyone
on the team. The most common roles are:
Role of the Facilitator
Facilitators are skilled communicators who are knowledgeable
about group processes and interaction as well as quality principles
and process improvement. They assist the team in achieving
its objectives by guiding the team in effective team processes.
The facilitator should be an objective team resource that
is detached from the process being improved. This allows the
facilitator to remain active in process and neutral on content.
|If you are in need of a facilitator,
contact your Quality Resource Advisor.
- Maintain a climate conducive to listening, understanding,
learning, participating, and creating.
- Assist the group in coming to consensus, defining and committing
to next steps, and reaching timely closure.
- Work with the team leader to plan meetings, structure tasks
and assignments, and incorporate quality tools and techniques
into the team's work.
- Challenge members to be open, to be individualistic, and
to take risks.
- Keep the team on track by following the ground rules they
- Help the team make process changes or revise ground rules
- Provide technical guidance in:
- Determining what data to gather-and how to gather it;
- Graphing and presenting data; and
- Designing and rehearsing presentations to leadership.
- Teach the team members how to use the tools and techniques
on their own.
- Encourage the group to evaluate its own effectiveness by
leading a meeting assessment activity at the end of each meeting.
Role of the Team Leader
The team leader organizes and manages the work of the team.
As a full-fledged team member, the team leader participates
in discussions but is cautious not to dominate them. Often,
team leaders are supervisors or managers in the project or work
area, although another team member may assume the leader role.
Regardless of their role on a team, managers and supervisors must
leave their rank outside the meeting room.
Specifically, team leaders:
- Take responsibility for team records, such as correspondence,
team chartering information, and process maps.
- Serve as a full-fledged team member, participating as a "leader
- Focus the team's attention on the objective of the project.
- Work with the sponsor to remove external obstacles and obtain
- Convene team meetings and ensure all logistics are handled.
- Work with the facilitator to plan upcoming team sessions.
- Establish group interaction and encourage participation of
all team members.
- Ensure that decisions made by the team are carried out.
- Act as a liaison between the team, the sponsor and various
groups in the organization, such as leadership.
Role of the Team Members
should be reached by consensus, with all team members having
an equal voice.
CONSENSUS means that all team members can support a decision
although the decision may not be the preferred decision of all
Team members share in the responsibility for achieving results.
Members should participate in discussions, decision making, and
other team tasks such as gathering data,
analyzing information, assisting with documentation, and sharing
Specifically, team members:
Treat team membership as a part of their job.
Are diligent about attending team meetings.
Understand and work toward the team mission.
Know and adhere to all ground rules.
Learn and make full use of quality principles, tools and
Apply all their experience and skills, contributing as fully
Carry out between-meeting assignments.
Work closely with some stage of the process under examination.
Role Of The Team Recorder
The team recorder is one or more team members who are responsible
for recording the team's ideas, decisions, and recommendations
on the flipchart and in the minutes during each team session.
When working at the flipchart, the recorder's printing should
be legible and large enough for everyone on the team to read.
The team recorder should write down ideas or suggestions verbatim.
The team recorder should not interpret the individual's ideas,
but instead, ask for clarification if a point is vague.
The team recorder maintains the "team memory" by recording
the minutes from each team meeting. The minutes will be important
to the team as they do their work. The team will refer back to
the minutes frequently to recall their ideas, decisions, the rationale
behind decisions, the actions to be taken, and who is responsible
for the actions. The team recorder should distribute the minutes
in enough time for team members to be reminded of the actions
they are responsible for and complete them before the next meeting.
Role Of The Team Timekeeper
The team timekeeper is the team member who keeps track of
the team's use of time in relation to the time allotted to
each activity on the agenda. They help the team optimize its use
of time and keep to the meeting schedule by giving regular updates
to make team members aware of the time expended and time available.
In addition, the team timekeeper notifies the team leader or facilitator
when the team has reached the end of its allotted time for each
segment of the meeting. When this occurs, the team can move on
to the next segment of the meeting or reallocate its time and
continue with the current topic.
Using The Continuous Improvement Process
Using a process that leads to viable solutions is one of many factors
that influence team success. Teams should not haphazardly jump to
solutions. Instead, the Continuous Improvement Process will lead
teams through a series of steps that will help align the improvement
project with organizational objectives, identify customer needs,
describe the process, identify improvement opportunities, implement
improvements, and identify ways the improvements can be used in
other areas of the organization.
If the improvement project under consideration is large, of
extreme significance to the department or agency, cross-functional
in nature, or covers a sensitive issue, leadership should complete
the first step of the Continuous Improvement Process to more clearly
define the project and establish a team charter. By doing this,
leadership will choose an output that is critical to achieving organizational
objectives and will pursue an improvement effort that focuses on
a specific process or problem that has the potential for significant
improvement. In this case, the project will be turned over to the
team with Step One completed. The team will then review the first
step and proceed with Step Two.
A division or section within a department or agency may decide
to attempt an improvement effort on its own within its area of responsibility.
In this case, the division or section should establish a team charter
and follow the complete Continuous Improvement Process.
No matter where the improvement effort is initiated, all of the
steps in the Continuous Improvement Process must be completed to
ensure the project is aligned with organizational objectives and
is addressed in a logical and thorough manner. It is important to
review the organization's mission and vision before starting this
process. In some cases, it may also be advisable to do some preliminary
work with Steps Two through Five before chartering a team to better
clarify the project.
The Team's First Meeting
Ideally, the first meeting of a newly formed improvement team will
include a "Team Launch." A Team Launch is a workshop that
will enable the team to accomplish in a day what typically takes
a few team meetings.
The first portion of the workshop includes clarification of team
roles, development of team ground rules, and a careful review of
the team charter to ensure that everyone understands the task. There
will also be opportunities for the team members to get to know each
other and begin working together.
The second portion of the workshop involves the team learning about
team development and the Continuous Improvement Process. The team
will also begin working on their project with the facilitator using
the Continuous Improvement Process.
The Team Launch can be a powerful tool to help the team get off
to a good start. Understanding how teams work, what team member
responsibilities are, and how to use the Continuous Improvement
Process is critical to teams performing effectively. See Appendix
E, page 36, for a sample of a Team Launch agenda. Please note that
this sample agenda is included to provide an example of what a Team
Launch might entail.
An actual Team Launch should take into consideration the team's
unique needs. For example, the sample agenda assumes that the
team members have already received some basic team training, but
would benefit from a review of team development concepts and the
Continuous Improvement Process as well as some team building. If
the team members have not received any training, the Team Launch
agenda would have to be tailored and expanded to meet the team's
training needs. If the team has just completed training, a review
of the concepts and the Continuous Improvement Process may not be
See below for information on Appendix A - E
APPENDIX F - Bibliography
Brassard, Michael. The Memory Jogger Plus.
Methuen, MA: GOAL/QPC, 1996.
Doyle, Michael, and Straus, David. How to Make Meetings Work!
New York, NY: Berkley Books, 1993.
Scholtes, Peter R. The Team Handbook. Second Edition.
Madison, WI: Joiner Associates, Inc., 1996.
We wish to acknowledge the contributions made by the following
organizations and individuals, without whose assistance this document
would not have been possible:
- State of Ohio, Office of Quality Services;
- State of New York, Governor's Office of Employee Relations;
- University of the State of New York;
- State of New York, State Education Department; and
- Glenn Dennison, North Carolina Department of Transportation,
Their spirit of cooperation and sharing is one we will strive to
The project coordinators for the development of this document were:
- Jeff Roerden, Assistant to the Director, Office of Quality
- Edrienne Mason, Duke University Intern, Office of Quality
Teams: Getting Started
Summer 1997 is a handbook created by the North Carolina Office of
Quality Improvement. The handbook was converted to html by the DENR
Quality Guidance Team on February 22, 2000. For a hard copy of the
handbook or if you have suggestions for improving this document,
or if comments or feedback on the structure or content of this document
please contact Chris Russo
The following appendices are being converted
for posting to this web site please check back at a later date.
Appendix A - Continuous Improvement Process
Appendix B - Project Selection Worksheets
Appendix C - Team Charter
Appendix D - Communication Plan Worksheet
Appendix E - Sample Team Launch Agenda