by Alan Willett


“The success of a vision is determined by its ownership by both the leader and the people.“ 

 — John C. Maxwell

“How do I know if the team has taken ownership of the challenge they have been given?”

When I have been asked this question, I know that I have not done a sufficient job of conveying what it looks and feels like when a team has taken full ownership.

The simple answer is that the team is demonstrating repeatedly that they know more, care more, do more about the mission they have been given than you can.        

Here are five examples of what this behavior looks like to management that has given ownership to teams.

  1. The team has made a commitment to their own schedule.  The team didn’t just accept the request to be done in some amount of time. Instead, the team estimated all the work in detail. The team came back to you and said when they could accomplish the task even if it was later than your wishes.


  1. When there are schedule troubles, the team works to solve the problems without involving the management team. When there is team ownership, the team keeps a close eye on the commitments they made.  When there are problems, the team’s first reaction is to figure out how to make sure they can get back on track.  The best teams inform management of the corrections they have already made.
  2. When the team can’t solve problems, they ask for what is needed.  When the team cannot solve problems themselves, they bring options to management.  They will explain the problem, all the actions the team has taken to correct the problem, what ideas they have for how management can help.
  3. The team looks out for the long-term benefits of the organization.   Sometimes teams under pressure will take shortcuts. Those shortcuts may get a task done quickly but also incur technology debt. The technology debt will cause future delays in work.  The best teams do not make these types of decisions lightly. They will involve management in decisions that affect the long-term outcomes of the organization.
  4. The team puts in the extra effort to finish projects with style.   The teams with the most ownership ensure they cross the finish line of the project with style. They ensure customers are engaged and ready. They have project data recorded for future reference. 

Teams with great ownership thank their management for the opportunity to excel.

Yours in the calm pursuit of excellence,

Alan Willett