TTE Strategy has been recognized as #1 mid-sized strategy consulting boutique


Lars Linnekogel



In our work to date, we have been introduced to many project teams on the basis of which a project can succeed or possibly fail. The “formation of a project team” may sound simple at first, but entails a large number of important factors which must be taken into account by the project leader. This article outlines the points of importance with the aid of two genuine customer examples from our coaching seminars for project leaders.

Our first example is that of the “learning effect”:

In a change management project for the communication sector, various people were selected who were readily available, but did not have any innovative ideas for clear communication, although that is a fundamental requirement for the communication sector. The success of the project was consequently threatened. A PR agency had to be retained to minimize the damage internally, leading to high additional costs and lost time.

What went wrong here? The purported pressure of time was the problem here. Since a team was/had to be formed within a very short space of time, the first people available were chosen. This was a big mistake, as even the project leader did not properly identify the project requirements and consequently failed to identify the right people in the company. Perhaps a coach should have been consulted here to support the process by asking the right questions:

  • How is the goal of the project to be achieved?
    • In which space of time?
    • With which resources?
    • With which powers?
    • Who is to be involved?
    • Which existing results / findings can be used?
    • What must be avoided?
    • What must the project team ultimately deliver?

The project leader must then consider the structure required for the project to be undertaken in accordance with the questions set out above. TTE recommends a modular approach here, i.e. subdivision of the project into “modules” or project parts. People are then specifically selected for each module according to the following criteria.

  • Which skills are needed?
  • How long do I need this member of the team and from when onwards?
  • Where can I find a suitable candidate?
  • Is my team to be made up of internal and/or external candidates?

The considerations as to the qualifications needed by the candidate are a particularly important aspect. Points to be considered include technical know-how, seniority, position in the hierarchy, appreciation, innovative strength and the ability to grasp matters as a whole.

The requirements and circumstances of each project are not always clear from the outset. In such a situation, the project leader must implement the process in the best possible manner. The following scenarios are conceivable:

  • Unclear project requirements à The project leader must talk with the customer and assess the requirements to the best possible extent.
  • No human resources available à The difficulties in implementation must be made clear to the customer and the priorities redefined.
  • Staff from other departments are not released à This must be clarified with the management and the project’s sponsor.

Basically: The better a project leader is able to prove the value of a certain person for his project and hence for the company, the greater his chances will be of winning that person for his team. 
If the desired internal resources are still not available, we recommend that the gap be filled by external staff and their skills developed internally in the long term.

After all the theoretical recommendations and our first doomed example, we will now show how successful project teams can be formed using the correct approach, as described above:

The first point considered in a reorganization project, even before the team was formed, concerned the requirements to be met by the new organization. An all-embracing view based on the market, product, processes and costs was called for. For this purpose, innovative members of staff with fresh ideas in the fields of sales, market analysis, controlling, operations and strategy were brought together with a project management expert. This combination delivered the right added value and the new organization not only cut costs, but is also much more effective for the company as a while.

Which mistakes were avoided in this case? The project leader allowed himself sufficient time to select the members of staff, identified the right characters with the appropriate qualifications / capabilities, and obtained the opinion of a neutral third party who additionally reviewed and confirmed his chosen team.

Basically: The more own members of staff are involved, the more sustainable the results of the project will be, due to greater acceptance of the implementation. Successfully helping to shape a project and being part of it also leads to greater motivation and identification with the company. 
However, if the selected project team is exclusively made up of internal members of staff, additional external incentives for motivation and sustainability can be extremely useful. New perspectives appear for the project and its visibility increases – precisely this mix is offered by TTE. We combine the advantages of external advice with the competences of your staff, ensure a reliable and transparent process, and support your project right up to the end.

Do you have further detailed questions on the subject of team formation or project management in general? If so, please do not hesitate to contact us directly, by email at or call: + 49 (40) 350 85 600. In addition to project leader trainings, we also offer project support and individual coaching programmes. We look forward to hearing from you!

The Team


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