Inputs are often controlled or influenced by management. This may be the direct manager of the group or team or the result of senior management decisions and strategies. This means in practice that the way a team is put together and will function is influenced by the organisation’s values, vision and strategy, and its practices and procedures.
Two main factors to consider at this stage are communication climate and group configuration.
Communication climate. In the case of the company newsletter you may need to think about the existing communication culture within the organisation and how the newsletter can enhance it. Consider the reasons for introducing the newsletter and to what extent it is in line with organisational strategy and vision. You may also want to see what existing processes and procedures can be used, what barriers and resistance there may be and what you may need to do to influence and smooth the way so that these are overcome or worked around.
Group configuration. Managers can influence the team process by their choice of team members. An effective team needs to be appropriate to the task: this includes size and the blend of talent. In the case of the newsletter, you would need to think about the skills needed and the people available to work on it. It is also useful to consider whether the task could be used as a development opportunity for someone. If so, is there also a person available to monitor and support them?
Some input-related questions for you to consider at this stage are given in Box 2.
Box 2 Input-related questions
How much support is there for this newsletter among senior management?
Who might need to be influenced?
What objectives will it fulfil?
What resources will be provided for it? What others might be needed? Where could they come from?
How will individuals working on this be rewarded or recognised?
What might they learn? What skills could they hope to develop?
How many people will be needed to perform this task?
What technical skills are needed (e.g. desktop publishing)?
What training and development opportunities are available?
What roles are needed (e.g. a co-coordinator)?
Who might work well together?