Tiger Team Explained: How It Helps to Solve Critical Issues

Author: Madalina Roman

Welcome to the realm where project challenges find their match: the Tiger teams. In this article, we introduce you to the concept of a cross-functional team as your ultimate solution for resolving critical problems seamlessly.

Free eBook: How to plan your team’s time

Get a free copy of the eBook and learn how to leverage the power of time tracking in your team

First, we’ll delve into the meaning of a Tiger team and help you understand how Tiger teams operate. Next, we’ll guide you through the advantages of employing Tiger teams and address common pitfalls to avoid. Finally, you’ll gain insights into deploying the Tiger team approach for your projects.

Let’s dive right in to explore the concept of tiger teams!

A Tiger team meaning: What is a Tiger team?

A Tiger team is a group of subject matter experts with diverse backgrounds that form a cross-functional team with a sole purpose: to solve a specific problem occurring within your project.

Tiger teams consist of diverse talents and multiple perspectives to solve problems with efficiency and expertise, often in high-stakes or time-sensitive situations.

a tiger team of four solving a problem in a project

Tiger teams originated in the 70s in the United States Navy as small groups of experts assigned to identify vulnerabilities in security systems. Since then, the concept has been adopted in various fields and businesses to identify and solve complex challenges and improve processes.

To this day, many companies build tiger teams, which consist of mature experts with the necessary skills to identify problems and fix each critical issue with innovative solutions.

This provides considerable relief to each project manager who now has access to a specialized team and instills confidence in the remaining employees, allowing them to proceed with their planned tasks uninterrupted.

You have two options when it comes to implementing a Tiger team approach:

  • Option A: Create a Tiger team by selecting team members dedicated solely to solving a specific problem. During the problem-solving period, their sole focus is on eliminating the problem. Once resolved, they can return to their regular tasks.
  • Option B: Select team members who will continue their regular tasks and work on resolving the problem. In this scenario, it’s essential to employ a prioritization technique to manage their workload effectively.

When to build Tiger teams?

In an organization or project context, a Tiger team is tasked with addressing critical and pivotal issues that may arise during a project’s course. As a group of experts, the Tiger team meticulously investigates to uncover the root cause of the issue. They then provide the organization with strategic direction, outlining possible solutions to rectify the problem.

When to build a tiger team? For routine and straightforward problems that have readily available solutions, there’s no necessity to form such a specialized team. However, when confronted with substantial and high-impact challenges, assembling a Tiger team is imperative.

Who makes up a Tiger team?

The composition of a Tiger team is determined by the specific needs and circumstances of your company, stakeholders, and project managers.

The assembly of a Tiger team is based on factors like the nature of the problem, the required skill sets, the project scope, and the urgency to resolve it.

Usually, a Tiger team consists of a group of experts with senior-level experience. Tiger team members are drawn from different departments within the organization, including finance, marketing, IT, and design, to ensure different perspectives.

The key is selecting team members with the right skills and expertise tailored to solve the critical issue at hand.

To celebrate successes, it’s essential to choose the most qualified experts with diverse skills, ensuring that the team is well-equipped to tackle the problem effectively.

The goal is to create a well-rounded team capable of achieving a high success rate in problem resolution.

8 Benefits of a Tiger team approach

Joining or forming a Tiger team can be a game-changer for your project or organization. These dynamic squads, comprised of experts from various backgrounds, bring a host of advantages to the table, especially when it comes to tackling challenges head-on.

Yet, it’s important to note that Tiger teams aren’t a one-size-fits-all solution. They require adaptation to the unique needs of your situation.

However, while established procedures have their merits, introducing a Tiger team can introduce a fresh perspective and a range of unforeseen benefits.

Here’s a look at the benefits of a tiger team approach:

  1. Proactive attitude: Tiger teams excel at addressing potential problems creatively, swiftly identifying causes, and implementing effective solutions.
  2. Enhanced collaboration: Tiger teams bring communication and collaboration across departments, facilitating the identification of the most likely solutions to complex challenges.
  3. Empowered decision-making: They empower members to make tough decisions, ensuring the execution of creative solutions, all while fulfilling regular work obligations.
  4. Multifaceted perspectives: Tiger teams work to investigate problems from various angles, offering comprehensive insights into the issues at hand.
  5. Innovation catalyst: Tiger teams ignite new ideas in product development, enhancing products and services.
  6. Future-ready insights: They provide valuable insights for future growth, strategically positioning the organization to address potential problems effectively.
  7. Cost efficiency: Tiger teams streamline processes, optimize resource allocation, and creatively address the root cause of the problem, contributing to cost reduction.
  8. Sales performance boost: Their involvement often leads to significant sales performance improvements driven by innovative ideas.
tiger team

How to create an effective Tiger team

Building an effective Tiger team may seem straightforward, but it involves specific guidelines essential for building a highly functional and efficient team.

Although the process can be challenging, the benefits, as highlighted earlier, make it well worth the effort. Here are the three key steps you need to follow:

Identify the problem

A Tiger team is designed to address a specific and critical issue within your project. The first step and the most important thing is to define the exact problem you aim to resolve clearly. It’s essential to establish the team’s scope and context.

The ideal approach involves creating a comprehensive briefing that outlines all the essential details to communicate to your Tiger team.

List skills and requirements

Once you’ve pinpointed the critical problem that requires attention, it’s time to take action. Having a clear understanding of the issue allows you to compile a precise list of the skills and expertise needed to solve it and avoid scope creep.

Ensuring you gather all the necessary elements with precision minimizes the margin for error when selecting the Tiger team members.

Select the right team

There is a short answer to the question of who should get into the special group: The best cross-functional experts in the company.

Building a Tiger team is akin to assembling a high-performing ensemble. You need the very best individuals for the job. After detailing the required skills and requirements, you can now focus on identifying the colleagues who best match these criteria.

Take the time to analyze each team member, conduct interviews if necessary, and handpick those who are indispensable for your Tiger team. This selective approach ensures that the team is optimized for the task at hand and maximizes the chance of success.

What to avoid while managing Tiger team members

Tiger teams are renowned for their unique benefits, offering the potential to ensure optimal project outcomes. However, despite their strengths, there remains a significant possibility of encountering challenges, whether originating from internal or external factors.

Fortunately, by being proactive and anticipating potential issues, you can mitigate these hurdles. Here, we present a selection of common mistakes to steer clear of when working with Tiger teams:

Lack of strategic planning

Without any planning, your Tiger team won’t be able to dissolve the problem you’re having in your project.

Make sure there’s a clear step-by-step strategy to guide this team through the problem and the skill it needs to eliminate.

Incomplete problem briefing

Without a well-defined strategy, your Tiger team may struggle to address the project’s challenges effectively. Ensure there’s a clear, step-by-step plan in place, guiding the team’s actions and providing the necessary skills for problem resolution.

Distracted focus

After addressing the initial issue, it’s possible to veer off into unrelated discussions. To maintain effectiveness, it’s crucial to keep the team focused and committed to the ultimate goal.

Neglecting documentation

For every procedure a Tiger team gets involved in, it’s easy to forget the need to document everything. Throughout the journey to resolving the problem, they must leave documents and guides that could help other teams in the future. It could be a major help in handling different problems along the way.


In summary, Tiger teams are dynamic cross-functional groups of experts who excel at tackling critical issues within projects and organizations. They bring a proactive attitude, enhanced collaboration, and multifaceted perspectives, driving innovation and cost efficiency.

Building an effective team involves precise problem identification, skillset requirements, and the selection of top talent while avoiding pitfalls like a lack of strategic planning and neglect of documentation.

Incorporating this approach into your project toolkit is about more than just problem-solving. It’s a strategic move towards achieving success in the face of complex challenges and fostering a culture of innovation and growth.


Where did Tiger teams originate?

The “Tiger team” concept takes us back to 1970 in the military setting. It has become famous due to NASA’s creation of a Tiger team on the mediatic Apollo 13 mission.

What’s the size of a Tiger team?

There’s no specific number to define a Tiger team. To be a great one, it needs to concentrate on the best selection of senior-level members with a high set of skills so that every area is covered.

Why is it called a Tiger team?

The term “tiger team” is derived from its origin in the military and gained prominence through NASA’s deployment of a tiger team during the Apollo 13 mission in 1970 to solve complex problems with exceptional speed and expertise.

What is a Tiger team in Agile?

In Agile methodologies, a tiger team refers to a group of experts from different departments assembled to resolve critical issues or challenges within a project swiftly.