How to grow performing teams?

During our most recent "Leadership Retreat" we explored the difficulties to grow performing teams, teams where people gell with each other and achieve unseen results. We had 2 teams that competed in a simulation that started from a group of people that have to work together but do not know each other at all, towards the final goal of a true performing team. They iterated on the road to success while removing real life obstacles with possible solutions the group saw valid. Each iteration brought some extra insights as 5 Why's and how to really use the Agile Manifesto as a Forcefield Analysis tool (see example in teambuilding blog)... Below a extraction of some obstacle - solution fits the group came up with, these are not a representation of what Co-Learning recommends but a representation of what the attendees of the retreat accepted as a possible solution. Each problem-solution fit is not unique and some solutions given were considered the last resort but still valid by the attendees.

Problem Solution
Extreme characters in the team disrupt its performance Remove the character out of the team
People are not located in the same office Skype calls, regular face to face meetings
Only the loudest voice in the team is heard No individual rewards (compliments & monetary) but only team rewards
Things do not get done Create a Definition of Done
Lack of communication Visualize work
Different expectations Generate an emergent goal, common goal
Conflicting visions Build in short feedbackloops
Team uncertainty on corporate vision Visualize corporate migration strategy using metaphors
Some team members are not motivated Discover each persons motivation factors and use that
Silo thinking Common goals, cross-functional teams
Conflicting hidden agenda's Out of office Alcohol consumption
Too much burocracy automate documentation as much as possible, remove certain documentation
Panic on milestones self-organization, get team estimates for planning
missing daily synchronization daily standups
... ...

For the complete set we refer you to our facebook group where Johan Tré posted pictures of the complete list of problem-solution fits, together with some other retreat atmosphere pictures. As you can see there is a lot of things you can expect on the road to a performing team, looking back at all the possible solutions the group came up with 3 key factors as a first rescue to team issues:

  1. Visualization
  2. Communication
  3. Common Goals

Or...

Visualize the problem at hand to facilitate the communication towards the teams common goals.

The above conclusion led us to believe that for each obstacle you encounter towards a performing team, you should consider how it impacts the common goals, how to visualize it is affecting the goals in a negative impact (otherwise it is not a problem at all), and how you can facilitate a constructive discussion around the subject. Together with the learnings of our previous Leadership Retreat featuring Christopher Avery Responsibility Model the attendees are very much equipped to change their environments for the better. Given the feedback from our attendees, we might use our next Leadership Retreat to dig deeper into the ways we communicate as a leader. See you there! (Jan 12th, 2013) PS: Both teams scored 15 points and we ended up with a draw. Coincidence?!