As we sat around the table working a challenging topic today, one of the team members said, “We need to decide so that we can move forward and tackle the next item on our list.” Another said, “Hey, I can do this and this with what we have so far” and yet another said, “We need to know more to decide on this…I can get what we need from so-and-so”.
Each of these team members was speaking from a position of his/her strength relative to the generation or application of knowledge.
I showed a preference model of team strengths to the team members yesterday and asked each to pick his/her top 3 strengths from the list. Here is the inventory of strengths we selected for ourselves, along with a definition of each. (The number in parentheses indicates the number of people who selected that strength – there are 18 selections total, 3 per person.) These strengths comes in two forms – strengths that “stir up” the team in a good way, and those that “mobilize” the team.
“Stir Up” Strengths
- Experimenters (1) – those who keep trying different things to see what works
- Originators (0) – those who keep creating and innovating
- Questioners (1) – those who keep asking probing questions
- Transformers (3) – those who develop existing knowledge
- Seekers (1) – those who keep hunting for and gathering new knowledge
- Accelerators (0) – those who transfer knowledge rapidly
- Amplifiers (2) – those who make sure everyone knows
- Channelers (2) – those who keep the distribution channels in good shape
- Implementers (3) – those who apply knowledge to produce tangible results
- Integrators (2) – those who identify valuable linkages
- Multipliers (0) – those who use knowledge to generate new possibilities
- Prioritizers (2) – those who focus knowledge generation and application on critical areas
- Sense Makers (1) – those who interpret and translate for shared understanding
- Validators (0) – those who keep testing the robustness of new knowledge
Two of the strengths are covered solely by an individual who I invited to join the team shortly after it was formed. From working with him previously, I knew that he had valuable talents. This exercise affirmed my intuition and experience. Although his interpersonal skills are somewhat lacking, I believe that through feedback and real-time facilitation I can take advantage of his strengths to the benefit of the team. Of course, it sounds nice in theory – only time will tell if I can do it successfully.
Our team’s needs at a particular moment will increase the importance of particular strengths and lessen others. In other words, the needs for particular strengths will vary with time. For instance, at the current stage we need Originators, Questioners, Seekers, Implementers, Integrators, Multipliers, Prioritizers, and Validators. Some of these we have covered and some are not. Additionally, the strengths that individuals bring are not all equal – one person my be a better Integrator than another, and so on.
My plan is to utilize the strengths we identified for ourselves to the greatest extent I can. For instance, The team has excellent coverage in Implementers and Integrators, strengths we definitely need now. However, some key strengths are weakly or not covered at all. I see several paths here. One is to reinforce those gaps through focused attention by the team. For instance, only one person identified Questioner as one of his three strengths. If I encourage others to ask questions consciously, and ask some myself, we’ll do fine here. Another option is to take advantage of non-key members to fill particular strengths on an as-needed basis. An adjunct member of the team (who only supports when needed) is really good at asking questions and coming up with creative ideas. Another adjunct member is excellent at validating our approach against the expectations of the decision makers who will review our work.
I’m fascinated by this particular model and am intrigued by the coverages and gaps applicable to the team. With the work before us, both strengths and gaps will be exploited and revealed in the next few days. If we are able to capitalize on the strengths and fill the gaps somehow, the coming days will be extremely rewarding and successful. I’ll keep you posted.
What other knowledge-management strengths do you suggest?