Using The PRIMES to Solve Project Team Problems

by Jennifer Miller on April 16, 2012

in Book Review, Team Effectiveness

This is the second blog post about the book The PRIMES by Chris McGoff. Author McGoff says “The PRIMES show up every time people join up in groups to solve problems, drive change and transform systems.” There are 46 PRIMES, so there is a lot covered in the book and it’s all great.

But I know that people are time-stared and may shy away from reading a whole book. When I recorded this video book review of The PRIMES, I decided to offer the checklist below as a way to take the “PRIMES” concepts and immediately apply them to actual situations you may be facing in your work group.

Check out the list below. Are any of these team challenges cropping up in your project teams? If so, buy The Primes: How Any Group Can Solve Any Problem then use this roadmap to help you get started.

Good luck!


Team Challenge


Book Page(s)

Someone on your team is talking behind another person’s back.                                    



There is a culture of not being able to say “no”, even though the request is unreasonable. 


129 – 131

New ideas keep cropping up after you’ve scoped the project, threatening to jeopardize project the deadline. 


123 – 125

Somebody on your team is not performing to standard. You need to talk with him/her about it. 


89 (#5)

A team member didn’t keep his/her word about a promise made. Now what? 


137 – 139

A member of the team is slowing down the process with a lot of questions because “I just want to be sure we do the right thing”. How do you determine if when to move on? 


157 – 159

Do you know the one rule you can’t break when you lead a team meeting?  




Disclosure: I received a copy of this book for the purposes of reviewing it. It passed muster with me so I’m sharing this information with you.  Also, it would be a real drag for the Feds to show up and haul me away, so I’m following the  rules set forth by the FTC. Some of the links in the above post are affiliate links, meaning if you click on the link and purchase the item (looking is free), I will receive a commission. Hey, a girl’s gotta find a way to cover her blogging habit, right?

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Dana Theus April 16, 2012 at 8:33 am


Thanks for the great “cheat sheet”. This is barely scratching surfaces, as you know, but it is exactly the reason I love the book so much. Just about every group dynamics challenge can find guidance in a PRIME for resolution. I love the ones you’ve called out. Particularly LAGGARDS. In every single training I do, LAGGARDS arises spontaneously. And it’s such a relief to people to learn that every project reaches a point where it’s ok to ignore the LAGGARDS in order to succeed. Married with CONSENSUS, this is powerful group management juju. Thanks for your great coverage!


Dora April 16, 2012 at 11:50 am

Hi Jennifer,

Just ordered the book today and am so excited about diving into it! I can tell already by your cheat sheet that this book will be an effective tool for me to have at the ready for my non-work related groups! Thanks for the review!

Jennifer Miller April 16, 2012 at 2:16 pm


Yes, I’ve only called out 7 of the 46 PRIMES. It’s a very comprehensive book. One of the things I liked best that the PRIMES help us describe group dynamics that we all know, but can’t quite put our finger on how to define or deal with.

Jennifer Miller April 16, 2012 at 2:18 pm


One of the great things about this book is that it applies to *all* types of teams– work teams, volunteer teams, you name it.

Would love to hear your favorite “PRIMES” once you get a chance to read the book. Not mentioning any names of course 🙂

Dana Theus April 16, 2012 at 3:11 pm

Thanks Jennifer. Chris loves to talk about the power of naming things – which he mentions in the book too. It’s a very powerful strategy. When we name things we take the first step towards controlling them.

BTW: My favorite PRIMES:


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