This work is about becoming collectively more conscious and intentional, and consciously and intentionally more collective.
Sustainably effective teams and groups possess four key attributes:
- Relatedness - safety and ok-ness, connection, good dialogue, belonging and community.
- Clarity - of purpose, direction, priorities, roles and accountabilities.
- Spaciousness - to think and listen, to breath and sense, for dialogue and generative conversation, to be with what is, to navigate within complexity.
- Courage - of commitment and accountability, the ‘secret sauce’ of intentionality and practice, to step outside of places and patterns that no longer serve.
Working with teams and groups is about you seeing and working on yourselves, through what matters most right now, developing these (and other) attributes - bringing the work into the development and the development into the work.
I have a preference for dialogic over diagnostic discovery, each team and context is unique, so measuring one against a semi-arbitrary scale of others is of limited value.
Bringing thinking and being to the fore in addition to doing is critical. Our world and our upbringing, our measures, tend to be so much about doing, yet growth and development, working with today’s challenges, these really require us to build our muscles of thinking and being.
To many this 'softness' doesn't look like it will get anywhere, yet if we're talking about complex situations with thorny and engrained problems, then slowing down and sensing really does help to move ahead better compared to rushing and fixing. This way promotes relatedness and creates the conditions where people can discover the ideas and courage for what lies ahead. The best way to start is not with information but with questions.
Some questions that I find useful to prime thinking and for early discovery:
- What is there from the past that needs to be spoken or given a place before you can move forward?
- What's up with the present that’s no longer appropriate for the future that you see ahead?
- What do you want to create together?
- What is your part or contribution to the problem or situation you see before you?
- What do you imagine there needs to be more or less of to improve effectiveness (individually, from the team or group, from the leader, by the leader)?
- For what you want to create, what degree of interdependence will be required and how does this compare with the extent of collaboration being experienced?
Places to start to improve effectiveness?
- Why does this team/group exist and what for?
- Who do we serve?
- How will we be successful?
- What are we excluding, saying no to or refusing?
- How do we behave?
- Who does what?
- What’s most important right now?
- How will we know that we are being successful?
- Wanting to refresh or repurpose, to reconnect with why and what matters.
- A desire or imperative to scale leadership and overall organisational capacity.
- Sensing that getting better at the 'soft stuff' will result in better delivery of the 'hard stuff'.
- A need to build greater organisational and stakeholder understanding, engagement and contribution.
- Being at a strategic inflection point of choice, opportunity or challenge.
- Addressing dysfunction and inability to have productive courageous conversations.
- Navigating complexity; moving from predict-and-plan to sense-and-respond.
- Building systemic intelligence and promoting systemic health.
- Leading and working in near constant change and unpredictability.
- Understanding and working with transformation.
For example Collaborative teams tend to have a single purpose and outcome, and there is a need for high mutual interdependency for effectiveness and success. Whereas Co-operative groups tend to have a commonality of purpose or interest, but there are as many different outcomes of success as there are members, and the need for interdependency may be more fluid. Getting clear about what form you are matters, knowing that it’s a fit for what lies ahead matters more.