What Is a Core Team?
The “Core Team” is the key structure that enables a community or organization to effectively address complex challenges. This is typically a small group that has overall responsibility for shepherding the broader network of people who will be engaged in the Strategic Doing effort. At the beginning, the core team may be the only team. They will have their own strategic agenda and set of Pathfinder Projects to think about. But as those projects find traction, more people will be drawn into the network, bringing additional assets with them.
In other instances, a Core Team is established at the beginning of the project. This is usually the case when the effort involves multiple strategic focus areas. Each of these focus areas and initiative areas will eventually have their own teams working on Pathfinder Projects and each of the projects might be led by Pathfinder Project Teams. Eventually, if the initiative’s scope is very large. The core team is separate from these other teams, but should include representatives from each Focus Area Teams, once focus areas are established.
How Does the Core Team Interact with the Focus Area Teams?
A network-based approach to dealing with complex challenges requires some care and nurturing to help the network form and activate. The Core Team helps the formation and activation by nudging, supporting, and promoting the work of the network. The Core Team also troubleshoots when Focus Area Teams seem stalled; decides when a new team is needed; advocates for new resources; and serves as the outward-facing body to communicate the progress being made. If there are capital assets to be deployed (i.e., money or staff), the Core Team should also be involved in the decision-making about those resources.
What’s the Ideal Size of a Core Team and How Often Should the Members Meet?
The Core Team should be a small group to begin with. Five to eight is ideal. Members of the Core Team monitor the overall initiative. They should have their own “30/30” check-ins. These are short meetings at which the team reviews progress from the previous 30 days and decides on what needs to be accomplished over the next 30 days.
Who Should Be Part of a Core Team?
Absent from the Strategic Doing approach is the term “stakeholders.” Instead, Strategic Doing asks us to think about “network shareholders.” Shareholders are people who “share” a common interest in seeing a community or organization make progress on the complex challenge they are facing. So, the minimal qualification of an appropriate Core Team member would be someone with a shared interest in seeing progress made.
An effective Core Team member is also someone who is naturally curious and eager to learn about and experiment with new ways to address complex challenges. Lastly, Core Team members should be part of networks they could access and mobilize when needed. These networks could be formal or informal and large or small. These networks will likely lead to other shareholders who will be interested in addressing the complex challenges that focus the Core Team’s work.
What Support Will the Core Team Be Provided?
All Core Teams receive technical assistance from a Strategic Doing Practitioner. Many Core Teams find it helpful to participate in a Strategic Doing Practitioner Training. This technical assistance and training helps the Core Team members apply a set of skills, insights, and tools that will use for this initiative as well as future collaborative efforts to address complex challenges. The skills are easily transferable to their own organizations and efforts.
When Should A Core Team Be Identified?
The Core Team should be identified as early as possible – ideally before the first Strategic Doing workshop. Members of the Core Team can rotate, although stability is also important. A six-month term is a good minimum expectation for a Core Team member.