3 steps to accelerate your team’s success in 2018

Have you ever felt like your team doesn’t understand where your organisation needs to be headed?

Do you feel as though objectives are well communicated but people don’t seem to take ownership of their role and contribution in delivering them?

I have found many ways to accelerate team success and I’d like to share with you a design for a team session that could take your team to the next level by connecting them [personally] to the organisation’s objectives

You will start by exploring what your team values, and where they see the future opportunity for the team, then you will co-create a future vision for success, and finally, you will bring this right back to a 30-day plan that the team will own and drive forward.

As a leader your role in this process will include:

  • Creating a safe space for your team to contribute openly and honestly (which will involve more listening than speaking!),
  • Setting clear direction on team and organisation objectives, and
  • Laying the foundations for any ‘rules of the game’ (i.e. non-negotiables around resources or behaviours, or any relevant organisational policies – try not to think about this until you have read the entire session design and then come back to it if you think there is something of importance).

 1. Team Success & Opportunity

The intent of this activity is to get everyone into the mindset for team success and to begin to take ownership of their role and contribution.

Start your team session by providing everyone with a sheet of paper and give them 5 minutes to answer the following two questions:

  1. What are you most proud of over the last 12 months, for yourself and for the team
  2. As a team where do you think we have the greatest opportunity in the next 12 months and how do you see yourself contributing to this?

After 5 minutes have everyone share their responses, make sure you limit each person to 2 minutes.

Finally, take 20 minutes as a team to discuss the collective responses. Here are a couple of prompts to get the conversation going, if required.

  • What surprised you about other people’s responses?
  • Where did you hear similar or related responses?
  • What did you learn from this activity?

2. History of the Future

Visualisation of success is an instrumental practice in creating your future. The intent of this activity is to tap with the collective knowledge of your team in visualising both the future and the journey to get there. This level of early team engagement in strategy will also increase commitment to deliver the future.

Your team will need a degree of clarity around organisational objectives or outcomes for at least the next 12 months. It can be beneficial to extend this to 2-5 years where known. If organisational objectives/outcomes are not deeply understood within the team consider bringing in a speaker but ensure you brief them to focus content on the needs of your team and limit them to 20 minutes (10-15 to present and 5-10 for question and answer).

Now for the crux of the activity.

It is useful to start this activity individually and after 15-30 minutes (depending on the range of the detail you need) and then to bring together individual responses to a synthesised team response.

Write a future success scenario such as:

It’s December 2018 and our team has been attracting a lot of attention, we have smashed all of our targets yet it’s been such a fun and fulfilling year. The CEO has asked our team to present at the Executive off-site and wants to explore how the wider organisation can ad0pt our practices. The CEO will be coming to our team meeting in one hour and would like to understand what you will be presenting. 

As you prepare for the CEO’s arrival you reflect on how things are different today and the journey you and the team have been on, questions your ponder include:

  • What is it like working in our team today and how is that different from 12 months ago?
  • How do we enable ourselves to be successful? And how do we catch ourselves when we veer off track?
  • Have any relationships changed over time? (With the team, across the organisation, with customers)
  • What were the skills and talents we needed to develop (or recruit) and nurture in our team?
  • What were we able to change right away? 
  • What were some of the hardest things to change and how did we approach those changes?

After everyone has captured their individual responses we will bring these together into a synthesised team response. There are a number of ways you might approach this though in this example we will be doing it through a Sun Map — read on..

3. Sun Map & 30 Day Actions

Sun Map

A Sun Map is a visual framework to capture the core dimensions of your business over time. The intent of this activity is to create a shared model for the future and a prioritisation of activities at a macro-level.

In this example we will be creating a 12 month time horizon (we’ll refer to this time-space as a ‘vision’), divided into quarters (3 month chunks) and we will segment the map into: ‘technology’, ‘work practices & team’, and ‘relationships’ (customers, suppliers, and stakeholders). Take the liberty to adapt these segments to better meet your context.

With our Sun Map ready it is time to bring together your individual ‘history’s of the future’ into a single shared view.

The way this will work is that each person will have 3 minutes to present their perspective to the team, once everyone has shared the team will work collectively to synthesise the 12-month vision at the apex of the Sun Map. To make this a little easier consider giving each person a stack of sticky notes to capture noteworthy things they hear them throughout the presentations. Questions to consider when taking notes:

  • What are the key ideas that resonate most with you?
  • What are the themes or shared ideas you are hearing across the group?
  • What are the unique or conflicting ideas you are hearing?

Once you have heard from everyone your first (and perhaps most challenging) task is to capture the synthesised vision within the apex of the Sun Map. Do this using sticky notes and ensure the entire team is across what is posted there.

Then when everyone agrees with the 12-month vision your next task is to populate the quarterly chunks with key milestones and/or deliverables. This exercise should demonstrate progress to achieve the 12-month vision and give you the confidence that you are considering all of the aspects that will be required to enable success.

30 Day Actions

Now it’s time to narrow the focus to what you will do in the next 30 days in order to build momentum in your first quarter. This activity is intended to become a living practice and is recommended to revisit as a team weekly, updating each other on progress and updating actions to reflect the next 30 days. It is important to use your Sun Map as the anchor for this conversation.

To start this process it is easiest to get everyone to dump their thoughts on what needs to happen in the next 30 days. Use sticky notes to allow you flexibility in grouping and prioritising actions.

Once you have a prioritised list of agreed actions flesh out the detail of how will need to be involved in order to complete each action. A great way to do this is with DACI model:

Driver – the one person who will drive this action to completion

Approver – the person who has the authority to sign off on this action

Contributor – the people who will contribute to completing this action

Informed – the people who should be informed of the outcome

Two ways you can represent this are:

  1. Create a table with the respective headings and populate it, or
  2. Create templated sticky notes (larger ones) that capture all of the information pertaining to a specific action use a visual management system such as Kanban to manage progress.

If you are not familiar with the Kanban it is a practice that originates from Lean Manufacturing and is commonly used in Agile project management. A Kanban board typically has three columns: ‘To Do’, ‘Doing’, and ‘Done’. Stack all of your sticky noted actions in priority order under the ‘To Do’ column and have ‘Driver’s’ move items into the ‘Doing’ column when they commence activity.

Use your Kanban board or your action table as a core component for discussion at your weekly team meeting.

With a small team (3-8 people) you this entire exercise can be completed in 2-4 hours, a team of up to 30 could complete it in a full day. Larger teams could divide into sub-teams and complete in one day, however may not be able to reconcile any dependencies across the wider team within the day.

If you have any questions, please post them in the comments so that others can benefit from the Q&A.

If you would like to continue learning how to accelerate your team’s success then please follow me on LinkedIn or subscribe to our email updates at http://ismotion.co

Thank you for following and I look forward to hearing your stories.

Accelerate your success,

Nicolas Rivers