What All Great Teams Practice [Fogelson]

I came across

What All Great Team Practice

by Mackenzie Fogelson a few weeks back and immediately knew that it’d merit a blog post. But also that it’d take a bit of work to unpack. Below is my summary of the piece, which required some rejiggering of content in a way that’s hopefully still in-line with the author’s original intent.

The piece kicks-off with an important distinction between:

  • Ways of doing — actions teams and organizations operationalize in order to work in new, adaptive ways.
  • Ways of being — mindsets and behaviors that are integral to changing the ways of doing.

The key thesis in the piece is that teams and organizations often run off to change the ways of doing, ignoring the needs to change the underlying ways of being. If the current ways of being include learned helplessness, retaliation, shame, blame, and fear — no material change will be accomplished.

Specific practices can be used to address the emotional (ways of being) side first and cultivate the critical mindsets and behaviors:

  • Self-awareness — through the use of structured personal self-reflection exercises (what’s one strength you bring? what do people misunderstand about you? what needs acknowledging? what behaviors served or have not been serving this team?) and regular team check-ins.
  • Psychological safety — through the use of daily reminders of the commitment that each individual makes on the way they’re going to show up when engaging others, and the collective environment that they want to create.
  • Curiosity — through the use of more Socratic questioning instead of being “the person with all the answers”, and, mixed-up with strengthening self-awareness, the use of above/below the line reflections.

With more productive “ways of being” in place, the focus can start shifting towards better “ways of doing” starting off with a comprehensive team chartering exercise, which is detailed in the remainder of the and covering the following questions:

  • Mission + Purpose — Who do we serve? Who is our customer? How do we contribute to the organization’s success? What’s our outcome and how do we know we’ve reached it?
  • Values + Guiding principles — How do we want to show up every day? How do we want to get our work done? What will remind us to stay true to ourselves, our values, and our purpose?
  • Meetings — What is the purpose of each of our meetings? How often and how long do we meet? What meetings are missing and which ones do we need to stop having?
  • Communications — How do we collaborate? What technology do we use? When and why? What methods will we use for feedback and conflict?
  • Guardrails and norms — What guardrails will allow us to be autonomous in pursuing our purpose? What idiosyncrasies are important for us to name so we can do our work? When will we revisit our commitment to each other?
What All Great Teams Practice [Fogelson]

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