In the world of project management, there are often times when fast, focused, efficient, coordinated action is required by a team. That team may not always work together and may have other responsibilities; however, for a given task and a given period of time, it’s in the best interests of the organization to prioritize a given project for the group. Hence the concept of the “war room.”
A war room can be a permanent room that serves any group in need, or it can be set up ad hoc. The point is to get all the key players in one place to help facilitate closer collaboration and better communication.
Perhaps the primary benefit of the war room is more efficient communication. Instead of playing phone tag and relying on e-mails to communicate, all the key players are in the same room and can find and communicate with one another in real time.
Pawet Kijko, writing for Timecamp, explains, based on his own experience: “Where all the key members of our team are gathered in the room, we are sure that the flow of information will not be disturbed by any random factor. Thus, the company surely benefits from the situation—all the obstacles are quickly identified and removed, and the co-operation between the team members increases, as well as team focus and the working relationship.”
A war room also helps to ensure the members of the team are focused on the task at hand and can prioritize their efforts on the primary project. Particularly in more matrix-oriented organizations, team members might be drawn from all over the company, report to different managers, and have competing priorities. A war room, even if only psychologically, helps everyone focus on the task at hand.
It’s important to keep employee morale in mind when implementing a war room. It can be stressful and draining to keep a group of people cooped up and focused on a single project day in, day out. This is one of the reasons war rooms should be focused on relatively short-term initiatives that have a clear goal and end.
War rooms are not meant for routine, everyday work. If that were the case, you could just designate an official team that always works together as a group. Instead, they are for critical situations or crises that require coordination and focus.
What top projects in your organization might lend themselves to the use of war rooms to help teams better focus and communicate to achieve objectives?