How To Optimise Team Size In Uncertain Environments

wolfpack terrain.pngImage Source: Wolf Pack Explains ‘Alpha’ Behavior

The law of requisite variety (a term originally rooted as the first law of cybernetics) states that “If a system is to be stable, the number of states of its control mechanism must be greater than or equal to the number of states in the system being controlled” . In enterprise contexts, this means that that teams and organisations need to nurture their ability to handle dynamic and complex changes stemming from the external environment and have enough structured capacity to react with collective resources in the face of these stimuli so as to not fail and become a ‘un-viable system’.

Continue reading “How To Optimise Team Size In Uncertain Environments”

The Prisoners Dilemma, Trust, Cooperation and Effective Teams

PrisonersDilemma.jpgImage Source: Chalkdust Magazine
I have been reading Lord Sacks daily thoughts “Celebrating Life” and was impressed by his piece on “The Prisoners Dilemma”. The Dilemma in a nutshell is that 2 prisoners are given the chance to do a deal and betray each other. 

Lord Sacks is the UK’s chief Rabbi and highlights one vital aspect of the dilemma which I had not previously paid enough attention to – the fact that the two prisoners are not allowed to speak to each other!

Continue reading “The Prisoners Dilemma, Trust, Cooperation and Effective Teams”

How good a team leader are you? Try my Team Leadership Assessment!

As a team leader you have two distinct leadership responsibilities – Managing the Individuals and Managing the Team. Leaders who fixate on managing the individuals tend to have happy teams which unfortunately under-perform in terms of deadlines, quality, customer satisfaction and budgets! Leaders who obsess on managing the team may hit most of these targets but at the expense of team member Alienation, Burnout, Compliance, Disinterest and eventually Exiting (easy to remember – ABCDE!). Great Team Leaders manage both responsibilities. Here is a simple framework with a nice supporting spreadsheet to help you assess and improve your leadership:

Continue reading “How good a team leader are you? Try my Team Leadership Assessment!”

Free High Performing Teams Instant Healthcheck Tool Spreadsheet

An important free tool which I provide with my new book ‘A Systematic Guide to High Performing Teams‘ is a Team Process Health Check Spreadsheet written in Microsoft Excel. The spreadsheet allows you to rapidly assess each of 16 important team process elements on a scale of 0-3 ranging from ‘totally absent’ to ‘present and effective’.

Continue reading “Free High Performing Teams Instant Healthcheck Tool Spreadsheet”

The evolution of effective team working and how you can accelerate it!

By observing newly formed and existing teams playing business simulations I have learned some important insights into how team-working ‘evolves’ and offer here some specific ideas on how you might accelerate this evolution in your own organizational teams.
On the road to Effective Team Collaboration there seems to be two intermediate phases of ‘naïve collaboration’ which many teams seem to go through – Hyper-Communication and Over-Delegation.
EvolutionofTeamwork.jpg

Continue reading “The evolution of effective team working and how you can accelerate it!”

Top teams understand the 4 different types of Teamwork in Nature

What do we mean by “Teamwork”? We often talk about Teamwork as if its a singular thing however in nature there are 4 different types – each of which have a very precise meaning. I call these Solowork, Crowdwork, Groupwork and Teamwork itself. An effective team knows how and when to use each type – an ineffective team only uses one!

Continue reading “Top teams understand the 4 different types of Teamwork in Nature”

What’s the difference between a promise and a responsibility?

In the recent UK floods we heard a lot about defences failing and phrases being bandied about by engineers and managers such as “a once in a hundred years” event and “could never have been envisaged.” However when I hear these types of explanations it always makes me think instead of the crucial differences between a promise, a responsibility and a guarantee.

Continue reading “What’s the difference between a promise and a responsibility?”

Four rules for collaborating well in meetings

A lot of my work involves facilitating large meetings where groups need to collaborate to resolve difficult issues or develop future plans for working together. Over the last 12 months I have started to share 4 Golden Rules with the participants which always seem to significantly improve the results we get. Here they are!

Continue reading “Four rules for collaborating well in meetings”

Poor Mental Models fail teams before they even start?

One of the most powerful team exercises is to explore team leaders and team members “mental models” of teams, networks and groups. Mental models are the, often invisible, dictators of what actually happens in a team as opposed to what team leaders would like to happen. Here are some practical techniques for uncovering these “icebergs of the mind” before they sink your teams.

Continue reading “Poor Mental Models fail teams before they even start?”