The 6th Man Principle

In the midst of watching the NCAA March Madness tournament, I was reminded of the 6th man concept that RSI has used since its early days. As in basketball the 6th man concept is all about having a ”non-starter” prepped, practiced, ready to enter the game and immediately start contributing to the team. This concept is core to RSI’s 6th Man principle. For many of our strategic accounts we deploy an extra colleague to participate in the upfront strategy and design sessions, kickoff meetings and daily stand ups so that when their time comes they will be prepared to hit the court at full speed. Their time may come due to an injury, an illness, paternity or maternity leave, or maybe just a packed sprint that needs the extra help. Whatever the cause we know that this 6th Man will be able to step in, run the offense and execute the game plan because they’ve been to all the practices.

But wait, why would an enterprising, software development firm place a non-billable colleague onto a team? The rational is that it’s good for the client, good for the colleague, and in the long run it’s good for RSI. For the client it’s the assurance that they know there’s a backup waiting to get in the game in case something happens. For the colleague it’s a better use of “bench time” than creating a “make work” internal project or watching another PluralSight video. For RSI it’s a way to keep both clients and colleagues engaged and happy.

As March Madness enters the Sweet Sixteen and Final Four rounds take notice of how those 6th man players ultimately impact the game and success of the eventual winners.

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  1. This is a brilliant aspect of project risk management that’s not often discussed. This strategy doesn’t only apply to outsourcing, but to employee teams to ensure more inclusion and skill-building. I hope that a customer would see the benefit and not insist on the time being only non-billable.

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