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Using the disruptive power of a Tiger Team to drive results

Georgina Guthrie

Georgina Guthrie

February 15, 2023

Just as a team of superheroes brings together unique powers to defeat an especially powerful enemy, a tiger team brings together individuals with diverse skills and expertise to tackle complex problems. Whether to complete a high-stakes project on time or fix a critical system failure, tiger teams perform missions requiring coordinated and effective effort.

In project management, Tiger Teams are your secret weapon. They’re assembled from the best and brightest minds in the organization, hand-picked for their expertise, experience, and passion for getting things done.

If you’re a project manager looking to up your game and deliver results, it’s time to unleash the power of the Tiger Team. Read on to learn how they can help you overcome obstacles, achieve your goals, and deliver success, even when all hope seems lost.

What is a Tiger Team?

Simply put, a Tiger Team is a group of experts brought together for a specific, short-term project or problem. These teams comprise people from different departments with diverse skill sets and backgrounds. They work together to identify solutions and implement them, focusing on the most critical parts of the project.

The goal of a Tiger Team is to find and fix problems quickly, come up with creative solutions, or complete projects that require a specialized background. For most projects, the company-wide team approach is just right – but for special cases, you need a disruptive approach. This is what Tiger Teams bring to the table. 

The characteristics of a Tiger Team

  • They’re disruptive: Tiger Teams are cross-functional, made up of specialists from across the organization working outside the usual hierarchical team setup. This has the benefit of removing silos and fostering communication.
  • They’re creative: Because they’re not bound to traditional team rules, Tiger Teams have the freedom to think and act outside the conventional boundaries that can often stifle creativity and innovation.
  • They’re rich in expertise: Tiger Teams are small and typically comprised of individuals from different departments or organizations. These teams have a clear leader – often a project manager or senior executive – and may include subject-matter experts, researchers, developers, and other support personnel.
  • They’re focused: Tiger Teams have a single purpose – solve a specific problem or complete a crucial project on time. This ensures that every discussion, decision, and action focuses on achieving the team’s ultimate goal.
  • They’re agile: Because they’re small and not bound to the processes of the broader organization, Tiger Teams can move quickly.

Four approaches you need to know:

There’s more than one way to skin a (big) cat!


For those high-stakes projects that need a fast turnaround, having a dedicated Tiger Team that works on the project full-time might be your best bet. This approach is ideal when you need to dedicate specialized resources and create a sense of urgency.


If the project isn’t time sensitive, or if your team doesn’t have the resources for full-time staffing, then part-time Tiger Teams are a great option. This allows you to call on experts from across the organization to work on the project when needed and return them to their regular duties when the team is not in session.


In this model, a Tiger Team works alongside other teams or departments to tackle a problem from multiple angles. This approach allows you to benefit from additional resources and people-power while leveraging the Tiger Team’s small size.


In this model, the Tiger Team works on different projects at different times. This allows you to assemble a team as needed and disband it once the job is done.

You can also take an independent, autonomous approach or a managed one.

With the independent approach, team members are largely self-directed and operate without much oversight from senior leadership. On the other hand, in a managed approach, executives oversee the tiger team to ensure they meet their objectives.

The benefits of a Tiger Team

Why should you care about Tiger Teams? They give your project a much-needed boost when it may not succeed otherwise. With a unique combination of expertise and a fresh perspective, Tiger Teams can tackle challenging problems with innovative solutions to meet even the most challenging project goals.

Here are a few reasons to consider putting together a Tiger Team for your next project.

Fresh perspectives lead to creative ideas

When you bring together a group of experts from different departments, you gain access to a wide range of perspectives and experiences. This diverse group can bring fresh viewpoints to the table, helping you identify and solve problems in ways you may not have thought of before.

And let’s be honest, even the most creative of us all get stuck in our habitual ways of thinking from time to time. A Tiger Team can help bring new, more creative ideas to the table.

Better collaboration leads to better results

Tiger Teams are all about working together in the most effective way possible. By bringing together a group of people with different experiences and practices of working, you’re setting the stage for new collaboration methods. 

Not only does collaboration lead to better results, but it also helps build stronger relationships between departments and individuals. When people work together on a successful project, they are more likely to continue working together in the future, leading to even more success.

An Agile team means faster problem-solving

Tiger Teams tackle tough problems and find solutions quickly. By bringing together a group of experts, you can accelerate the problem-solving process and get your project back on track faster.

This is especially important for projects running behind schedule or facing unexpected challenges. With a Tiger Team on the case, you can get the support you need to get what’s most important done and hit those deadlines.

Being on the team boosts morale and motivation

We all like to feel valued and appreciated for our skills and expertise. By putting together a Tiger Team, you’re recognizing the talent and expertise within your organization and giving people the opportunity to shine. 

Not only does this boost morale and motivation, but it also helps with employee retention. When people feel valued and appreciated, they are more likely to stay with your company, leading to a more stable workforce and fewer disruptions to your projects.

A great way to share knowledge and skills

Tiger Teams provide a unique opportunity for individuals to share their knowledge and skills with others. By working together on a project, team members can learn from each other, helping to bridge gaps in knowledge and build a stronger, more well-rounded workforce.

When should you use a Tiger Team?

Think you might be in the market for an all-star team of problem solvers? You could be right. But that doesn’t mean Tiger Teams are appropriate for every situation.

When is the right time? Let’s break it down.

1. When you have a complex project 

If your project requires a range of expertise, a Tiger Team may be the only way to bring together the necessary skills to get the job done. For example, suppose you’re developing a first-of-its-kind software feature with a tight deadline. In that case, you might bring together your brightest developers, designers, and user experience experts to work together. By combining different skill sets, you’ll be able to tackle complex problems faster.

2. When problems strike 

Sometimes projects go south. If you’re facing significant challenges, a Tiger Team can help you find solutions. For example, if you experience a delay and need to speed production up, you might bring experts from different areas to identify ways to speed up the timeline. Or perhaps the client isn’t happy with the work so far – you’ll want a team of customer service pros, salespeople, and production experts to turn things around. The interdisciplinary approach of a Tiger Team can help identify potential roadblocks and come up with solutions that might not have been obvious to a single individual or department.

3. When you need a quick resolution

If you have a project that requires rapid resolution, a Tiger Team can help you get to the root of the problem and find a solution quickly. For example, suppose you have a software bug impacting the entire organization. In that case, a Tiger Team can diagnose the issue, come up with a fix, and implement it as quickly as possible.

4. When your project is failing

If your project has struggled or failed, it might be time to bring in a Tiger Team. A fresh set of eyes can help identify where things have gone wrong and give you the insights needed to get back on track (or start again on the right foot). You can confidently tackle even the most complex projects by bringing together experts from multiple disciplines.

5. When you need new ideas 

A Tiger Team can help inject some much-needed creativity into your project. By mixing things up and combining different perspectives and skills, you jolt people out of their comfort zones – and that’s when the magic happens. New stimulus helps people come up with solutions that might not have been obvious. 

6. Extra transparency

Do your stakeholders need to be highly involved in this project? Tiger Teams can help. Because they’re small, they can easily pass the information on. To take your team’s communication to the next level (Tiger or otherwise), equip them with a cloud-based project management tool like Backlog. Everyone working on the project can log in, see dynamic progress reports, assign tasks, and receive notifications in real-time. It’s ideal for cutting down on admin without compromising transparency. 

Who should be on your Tiger Team?

The short answer? It depends on your challenge.

Here are three things you should keep in mind:

  • Firstly, you want to ensure that your team is composed of individuals with the right expertise and experience. For example, if you’re working on an app bug, you’ll want to include developers and user experience experts. If it’s a customer service issue, you’ll want someone from that team, someone from sales, and someone who knows the product inside-out – a developer, product designer, or engineer.
  • Secondly, consider team members’ personalities and communication styles of team members to guarantee a cohesive team ready to hit the ground running. It is possible to overcome comms issues with the right approach, but if you know some people just get on better than others, go for them – time is of the essence!
  • And finally, establish a timeline for completion. Once you have this in place, you’ll be able to determine who’s available.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that a Tiger Team should consist of individuals from different departments and with varying levels of expertise. This will give you access to the widest variety of perspectives and experiences.

Tiger Team: tips for success 

Here’s how to get the most out of your elite team.

1. Define clear goals and objectives

Before you bring together your Tiger Team, ensure you clearly understand what you’re trying to achieve. Set specific, measurable goals and objectives, and communicate these to the team. This will give everyone a shared understanding of what they’re working towards and help keep everyone focused.

Work through the ‘5Ws’ to get to the heart of the issue: Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How.

Who: Who is affected by this ‘problem’? And who needs to be involved?

What: What is it we’re trying to solve? And what impact is not solving it having?

Where: Where is this problem taking place?

When: When did it happen?

Why: Why do you need to address it?

How: How will you solve the problem? That’s where the Tiger Team steps in.

2. Clarify roles

When assembling a team, you want to ensure everyone understands their responsibilities and the expected outcomes. By clearly defining each person’s role, everyone can work faster, communicate better, and stay focused on the task at hand. 

You may want to create a plan outlining communication channels and how best to use them. We also recommend making a Responsibility Assignment Matrix, such as a RACI chart, listing everyone’s names and roles. 

3. Define your project scope

Knowing the parameters of your project serves two purposes: first, it helps the team focus. If you know the deliverables, you won’t waste time getting distracted by tangential tasks that don’t add value. Secondly, it sets client expectations and leaves no room for miscommunication. If it’s not in the project scope, it’s no concern for the Tiger Team!

4. Create a timeline

Just like a conductor drives the orchestra forward, a timeline helps your Tiger Team stay on track and meet deadlines. It should include key milestones, deliverables, and additional tasks or activities necessary to complete to reach the end goal. 

When creating a timeline, be sure to factor in any external factors that may affect the project, such as holiday periods, delivery delays, or public holidays.

5. Give the team the resources they need

Tiger Teams are all about agility and collaboration – so don’t slow them down with tools that aren’t fit for purpose! Your Tiger Team deserves the resources and support they need to succeed. This might include access to relevant data, technology, tools, and the necessary time and space to work together effectively.

6. Make transparency a priority 

When you’re working on a fast-moving project, good communication is the gas that keeps you racing forwards. And clear communication is what makes kick-off meetings, daily standups, and post-mortems effective.

7. Celebrate successes

Finally, it’s important to celebrate successes along the way, no matter how small. This could be as simple as acknowledging a team member’s hard work or recognizing the team’s progress toward its goals. Celebrating achievements keeps team morale high and has been proven to raise your chances of further success.  

Final thoughts

A Tiger Team can be a game-changer for project managers seeking to optimize project outcomes and resolve complex problems. You’ll have the best possible shot at achieving your objectives by bringing together experts from diverse backgrounds, giving them a clear goal, and equipping them with the best collaboration tools. So go ahead, assemble your dream team, and confidently tackle your next project!



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