I’m a fan of virtual teams, times when you pull together people from across many teams to form a team that is focused on a goal. Sometimes they are dedicated to the effort, a lot of times they aren’t – depends on the amount of work needed and all the other competing priorities. Time isn’t the issue though, constraints are always there, it’s really about committing to the effort and the goal.
Getting that commitment is often hard, harder than it should be. Sometimes it’s the person, sometimes there manager. I find that typically 80-90% of the team is engaged, it’s the 1 or 2 people that you struggle to bring in. It’s all well and good to say “everyone has to be committed”, but in practice you end up making do until it’s done, or until something breaks because of the ones that doesn’t want to play for the team. Said differently, look for the ones that don’t want to wear the team jersey.
Every time I see this I wish I had fixed it sooner. Most of the times I knew it was broken (or was going to be), but explaining that in a clear way isn’t easy – it’s all gray,and it’s almost always about the soft skills on all sides. When it does get fixed it’s like the team magically starts to move at a faster and smoother pace.
The lesson here,if there is one, is don’t think it’s just you thinking that things aren’t gelling. Force the issue sooner rather than later. And maybe team jerseys isn’t a bad idea either.