A new fluid and agile team paradigm is emerging in the 21st century that compels them to work more like an improvisational jazz ensemble rather than as a conducted static orchestra. This is because work frequently occurs now within an uncertain and dynamic environment involving shorter duration innovative projects as well as the need to develop and sustain virtual and cross cultural relationships within a high rapidly changing global high tech environment.
Teams are required to come together and disband quickly within localized and globalized projects, differing infrastructures, lean methodologies, regions, geographies and conventional business hierarchies and functions.
It is expected that in the future there will be even less time and possibly less resources for teams to follow the conventional consuming team development route. Work now requires us to be capable of teaming up with anyone, anytime, via any medium and in any place to deliver the results organizations want and need to flourish in the increasingly competitive environment.
“Teaming is very different from the idea of building a high-performance team to fit a known task. It is dynamic; learning and execution occur simultaneously.” Teaming is the engine of organizational learning,”
Making ‘teaming’ a key to innovation success – because innovation is a team sport!
Innovation success requires teaming as it exemplifies serious co-ordination and deep collaboration to leaner, execute and achieve the desired outcomes. This might involve small groups of people to work together effectively to deliver a business or sporting outcome; or functional business units to develop lines of sight to their customer or possibly an entire organization to focus their efforts towards delivering results to its key stakeholders. It could also be a distributed network working together to achieve social or community change or a business eco-system working together to compete globally.
Harnessing and mobilizing collective impact and genius
What is important now is that truly innovative groups and teams are consistently able to intentionally develop and focus the power of their collective impact. To then elicit and then combine members separate slices of genius into a single work of collective genius – with anyone, anytime, via any medium and in any place.
Teaming case study
A long standing client was recently appointed CIO of a global Australian organization, like many large companies, had inherited a legacy of blaming IT for all of its business woes.
Realizing that his success depended on engaging and enrolling the business owners in an innovative “one team” approach, he partnered with Compass Learning and ImagineNation™ to create a Top Team Leadership, Alignment, and Teaming Innovation Learning Journey.
The aim was to enable IT to become “the go to group” – a catalyst for igniting and harnessing peoples “collective genius” in their organization. To lead, create and execute an innovative systemic business change that improves the customers experience and adds value to the overall global business.
We created a three phased learning journey including a comprehensive team diagnostic, a three day residential experiential workshop and a follow up online team coaching program to embed and integrate key learning’s and team habits.
Developing teaming mindsets
As so many of us are aware; mindsets drive behaviors which then drive the results we get.
So whilst everyone was keen to discuss the problems of such an approach and debate their unique role in this potentially new world, we focused our efforts towards opening people’s minds and hearts, and to experiment with be-ing, thinking and doing things differently, provocatively and disruptively.
The key growth mindsets we introduced at the offsite included;
- Taking personal responsibility, which means not blaming others for what goes wrong, or by denying and justifying, being constructive rather than passively or aggressively defensive in the face of problems, disagreement and conflict . This provided the foundations for shifting the language towards ‘I’ and ‘we’ and evolving later discussions and defining what individual accountability and mutual accountability meant to the group. All of which are fundamental to establishing teaming success.
- Knowing how to see their worlds both systemically and strategically as well as specifically and accurately simultaneously. Enabling them to be both flexible and adaptive and to reason inductively and deductively so that they could perceive possibilities and make unexpected associations. As well as create the intellectual collisions that create the intrinsic motivation for innovation to occur. This provided the basis for generating the real conversations that needed to be had, so people could perceive, sense and share their different perspectives within a safe and sensible space.
- Knowing what it means to operate from an ‘outward’ rather than an ‘inward’ mindset and to shift from their ‘business as usual’ box and conventional silo and ‘in the box’ thinking. Enabling them to pay attentions as to how they impact on others, and on ‘what’s best for the business’ and ‘how can they help each other be successful’. This provided the basis for further defining what co-ordination and collaboration meant to them in their team context. It also created a need for identifying, understanding and ultimately working their interdependencies in the future.
Developing teaming skills
Once the group got to know one another better through a range of targeted deeply debriefed experiential activities, that allowed them to experiment in an environment where they had permission to fail, they successfully enrolled in the ‘one team’ cause.
Our focus was to then build their teaming capability and skill set. The key teaming skills we focused on developing included;
- Developing interpersonal awareness; noticing how I impact on others, paying attention and being intentional in every interaction. Also by introducing the simple and much improved DiSC profile enabled the team, through facilitated discussion, to understand and flow with their individual behavioral styles and inherent group culture.
- Knowing how to ask generative questions as a means of skillful inquiry to explore multiple perspectives and maximize the differences and diversity that existed within the group.
- Knowing how to listen from possibility, to withhold evaluation and judgment and be empathic toward others to really hear one another and build deeper value adding conversations.
- Knowing how to practice having real conversations that were outcome focused and respectful.
Key teaming elements
Within an environment of fun, frustration, challenge and hard work and via a series of improvised facilitated processes, the group put these critical mindsets and skills to practice, and seamlessly develop;
- An agreed coherent ‘one team’ purpose statement to focus their efforts towards what they were together to achieve for their global organization.
- An agreed set of codes of engagement to focus and guide mindsets, behaviors and activities with clear rewards and consequences.
- Clear and concise agreed roles and responsibilities, outlining specifically their role and accountabilities, what they commit to do for the team and the organization, and what they want others to commit to doing in making the team purpose and CIO’s vision a reality.
What was truly amazing was how much deeper, richer and more meaningful these real conversations were by the third day, and how much coherence and intentionality the group could achieve in such a short time frame by experimenting with be-ing, thinking and acting differently, provocatively and disruptively.
Harnessing and mobilizing people’s collective impact and genius enables groups and teams to be agile and improvisational when operating effectively in an uncertain and dynamic environment is one, if not the most critical key to innovation success.
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Janet Sernack gained her consulting, education, facilitation, training and executive coaching skills, from 30 years experience in manufacturing, retailing and learning and development businesses to Australia’s and Israel’s’ top 100 companies. She resides in Israel where she founded a start-up, ImagineNation™ that teaches innovative leadership and start-up entrepreneurship via The Start-Up Game™.