Use Battleships to help your team achieve all its priorities

16th October 2012

When lots of people are working together on lots of things, it’s easy for actions to be duplicated (a waste of resource) and/or omitted (potentially disastrous).

One way to resolve this is by using a Battleships Grid, where you:

  1. List all the things you’re working on (e.g. your projects, initiatives, customers, products etc.) across the top
  2. List all team members’ names down the side
  3. Then, if person C is working on Initiative 3, in Box 3C, write Person C’s:
  • Overall responsibility with initiative 3. This won’t change (much) over time; and their
  • Next action re Initiative 3. This is removed as soon as it’s completed

This has lots of advantages, with only one potential problem. The advantages first:

  • It’s an impactful visual: everyone can understand what’s going on pretty much immediately
  • Everything gets done, with minimal duplications/omissions
  • Blank columns or rows are really bad – they mean an initiative has been forgotten, or a colleague isn’t doing anything – so tend not to happen
  • It’s easy to see the big picture, and therefore ensure:
  1. the right person is working on the right things (if not, swap actions so they are)
  2. nobody has too much/little to do (if they do, re-allocate actions)
  • the owner regularly updates and circulates the grid, so there’s good momentum and communication

In fact, this works so well that the only potential problem is that your Update Meetings could be really boring, especially if you all just read out what the grid says. So, instead, use the grid as the main update mechanism, which you reinforce with 121s and focussed ‘small group’ meetings. You would still meet as a big group when it’s needed, but probably only to discuss the big picture.

One final thought about Battleships Grids: they don’t take long to create. And anything that’s simple, quick and a definite improvement has got to be worth doing.

Action point

Put your team’s current projects on a Battleship grid. Is everything covered? Everyone doing the right work? The right amount of work?

Then, use it communicate progress with your team, ensuring everyone always has a next step.

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