A Great Start

“All things that are truly great are at first thought impossible.” –Friedrich Nietzsche

The team has been working for two weeks since my last post.  So far, the team is meeting the challenges of our project and is making great tangible progress towards our goal.  Here is what’s happened so far.

One of our first orders of business was to create a set of Norms of Behavior.  This is the set of behaviors that we all agreed to abide by in our daily interactions with each other.  Because we created it together, it engenders immediate buy-in from all members.  Our “contract” also stipulated that each of us has the responsibility to abide by the agreement and to hold each other accountable – that accountability is a shared function, not one solely in the hands of the leader.  Learning from my most recent experience, I posted the Norms of Behavior on the wall for all to see.  Sometimes, we may make a joke or a light-hearted comment on the spot about an entry on the list (such as “be nice to the person typing – it’s a hard job!”), yet I believe such demonstrations properly handled do more to reinforce the agreement rather than take away from it.  So far, the agreement is working extremely well to help our dialogues.

Repeating an exercise from my previous assignment, we did a self-assessment of each of our top three knowledge processing strengths from a list I placed on the whiteboard.  Much as in my previous assignment, some very enlightening results surfaced.  Here are the strengths and gaps of this eight-person team.  The numbers in parentheses show the number of people who identified that skill as a strength; the first number represents the team from my previous assignment, the second from the current team.

“Stir Up” Strengths

  • Experimenters (1,2) – those who keep trying different things to see what works
  • Originators (0,0) – those who keep creating and innovating
  • Questioners (1,4) – those who keep asking probing questions
  • Transformers (3,1) – those who develop existing knowledge
  • Seekers (1,2) – those who keep hunting for and gathering new knowledge

“Mobilize” Strengths

  • Accelerators (0,0) – those who transfer knowledge rapidly
  • Amplifiers (2,4) – those who make sure everyone knows
  • Channelers (2,1) – those who keep the distribution channels in good shape
  • Implementers (3,3) – those who apply knowledge to produce tangible results
  • Integrators (2,1) – those who identify valuable linkages
  • Multipliers (0,0) – those who use knowledge to generate new possibilities
  • Prioritizers (2,1) – those who focus knowledge generation and application on critical areas
  • Sense Makers (1,4) – those who interpret and translate for shared understanding
  • Validators (0,1) – those who keep testing the robustness of new knowledge

What I found interesting is that two of the key strengths – Questioners and Sense Makers – are well represented on this team; this is in contrast to my previous assignment, where those skills were under-represented on the team.  This bodes well for getting to the kernel of the ideas of our project. The current team is slightly under-represented in the Transformer strength compared with the previous team, where it was a shared strength of several members.  And as in my previous assignment, two other key strengths are under-represented – Originators and Validators.  This means the team will need to make a concerted effort to create new ideas, transform existing ones, and to test the robustness of those ideas.  The team and I have already talked briefly on how we might do that and will revisit again in the coming weeks as circumstances warrant.

Following the strengths exercise, we created a shared vision that described a compelling future state for our project.  To start this effort, we reviewed our organization’s vision document and some supplementary information from a management retreat in December.  This gave us the framework developed by our leadership team for our organization.  From there, the team took that material and focused on those aspects relevant to our project.  One team member took the leadership role to craft the ideas of the team into a vision statement, and another collected those same ideas for the vision statement and started crafting the next level of goals and objectives.  After reviewing and refining the products, the team created a drafted shared vision statement that, much as in the Norms of Behavior, engenders buy-in due to the collaboration.  We also have the first key cornerstone of our project – the shared vision – that will guide us throughout the project.  I shared highlights from the draft shared vision with my organization’s leadership and received a positive feedback.

Overall, we’re making excellent progress with several key products behind us – our Norms of Behavior, our knowledge processing strengths and gaps as a team identified, and our draft shared vision.  We will continue to drive towards our other key products in the coming weeks.  So far, it’s a great start!

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A Great Start