Category Archives: team

Positivity and Collaboration

In Barbara Frederickson’s book, Positivity, she talks about her wonderful collaboration with Marcial Losada. Building on Frederickson’s broaden-and-build theory, Losada’s mathematical model determined exact ratio of positive to negative emotions, 3-to-1, that distinguishes those who flourish from those who don’t.

Losada had an ordinary looking boardroom with walls made of one-way mirrors, video cameras, and special computers which they provided to intact business teams. Research assistants coded every single statement made by every single team member during the business meetings they observed. They tracked whether the statements were 1) positive or negative, 2) self-focused or other-focused, and 3) based on asking questions (inquiry) or defending a point of view (advocacy).

Of 60 teams that were studied, 25% met the criteria of high-performing. They achieved high scores on profitability, customer satisfaction ratings and evaluations by superiors, peers and subordinates. 30% scored low on all three business indicators and were floundering. The rest, the majority, had a mixed profile, doing well in some ways and poorly in others.

photo by tbone_sandwich

Losada also quantified a new variability called Connectivity – how much each team member influenced the behavior of the others, how attuned they were to each other.

There were huge positivity ratio differences between the different types of teams: high-performing were at about 6 to 1, mixed-performance at 2 to 1 and low performance were well below 1 to 1. High-performing teams also had higher connectivity and were equal in the balance of inquiry vs. advocacy and outward vs. inward focus. Low-performing teams were low on connectivity and showed almost no outward focus.

So how can you use this data to improve your collaborations? Comment with your ideas and check back to read some practical steps for fostering positivity and collaboration in your teams.

Get Things Done: 4 Ways to Collaborate for Accountability-Part 3

In addition to accountability partners for procrastination-prone activities a mastermind group provides a different kind of support.

Master Mind Groups

Master Mind groups are made up of about three to eight people who set a schedule to meet in person or by phone and come prepared to discuss needs and goals. Like coaching, this commitment forces you to set aside some time to work on those important but not urgent projects.

Each person reports on their individual goals, progress and sticking points. Sometimes a common goal will emerge which may lead the group to bring in a speaker or other form of information and learning.

Members brainstorm for each other. Best of all, they act as mirrors, helping each individual to acknowledge their progress and strengths as well as pointing out unproductive patterns.

I’ve found that these groups are very engaging and productive. Some of my masterminds have continued for years, some for just a few months. Even when the group has run its course, the members usually become long-time friends.

Who would you choose for a master mind group? Collaborate and get it done!

Tune in tomorrow for the last in this series for beating procrastination!

Promises, Promises: How Collaboration Helps Strangers Meet Goals Part 3

In this final post about Promise Partners, Ben Wood-Isenberg explains how eight strangers come together to support each other. It really works. I was there! Debbie

In my last two posts I described how I got the idea for Promise Partners and developed the program plan. So we came to the day of the program. Eight people came together at my friend Sharon’s house that were from all areas of life, age groups, and professions. The program of Promise Partners enabled the group to build an intense sense of community for a group of strangers. This leads to the next collaboration point:

Collaboration Point 4: The power of the circle and dreams. The evening began as we sat in a circle, choosing cards with a single word on them (i.e. Passion, wisdom) and telling about how it related to where we were in life. Although we had 9 people, myself included, the introductions took 25 minutes and really created the foundation for the community as we saw each other as real people. The space that made that possible was sitting in a circle. As we moved through the rest of the evening, we explored an area of life that would make the biggest difference if it were better or different. In this process, we focused on when this area was at its best and what it would look like in the future if life always looked like that. I watched as sharing the stories of past successes and the dreams people had for the future really built connections among strangers.

Soul Coaching Oracle Cards developed by Denise Linn

Collaboration Point 5: Sharing is the access to action. Although this process worked really well, I didn’t exactly know how to get people from what they saw for themselves to a place where they knew an action they wanted to take and were willing to ask for support from the others in the group. Naturally, I just asked people to start sharing with each other. This occurred in a couple different ways with a slightly different question each time that got closer to an action people would be willing to take to create the future they dreamed. So often we are jarred in the groups we work with because we move so quickly from a vision to action. The piece that we often leave out is the personal part, where people have the chance to step into the ownership of the vision and their future, and are internally motivated to act. Surprisingly, individuals in the group sharing one-on-one with each other made the difference in creating that motivation to act. By the time people had shared with about ¾ of the group, everyone was willing to move forward.

photo by deglispiriti

The rest happened organically. As we sat back in the group, we each had an area that we wanted to work on and a promise that we wanted to make. From that point, partnerships amongpeople naturally developed. By the end of the evening every person, unexpectedly myself included, was involved in at least one partnership with someone else in the group. Partners showed what they created by linking large sticky notes saying “The support that would make a difference is….” and “The Support I commit to give my partner is…”

As we came to the end of the evening, one of the members of the group said, “So we’re not going to meet again?” I responded, “Well, would you like to meet again?” “Yes she said, don’t you all?” Every single person in the group responded yes, and we set up a date to meet again and reflect in September.

The event itself was a true testament to the possibility of collaboration and community in any group. In barely two and a half hours, eight strangers from very diverse backgrounds and places in life saw each other as assets, built a strong community, and partnered in supporting each other. It was proof that collaborations can be created among anyone.

Ben Wood-Isenberg creates the conditions for positive change that help people and organizations accomplish their hopes and dreams. He is a new addition to Wholonomy Consulting llc, having recently graduated from Arizona State University with a B.A. in Global Studies. Ben has worked with a variety of organizations across the state of Arizona providing training and curriculum development, community building workshops, facilitated community discussions, and system-change processes. In this capacity, Ben utilizes the approaches of Appreciative Inquiry,Technology of Participation, World Café, and Open Space Technology.

Collaborative Agility Case Study

“I think they will hear the message differently if it comes from you,” said my client.

The message she hired me to bring to the leaders in her dispersed healthcare organization — “Effective teamwork can create better results.”

My client is known for living this message herself but at this annual leader retreat she wanted to bring more emphasis to the critical need for her staff to think beyond their location or function to effect the care for patients.

Taking advantage of the premise that the outsider can get away with ideas that insiders can’t, I suggested that we create an interactive format to the retreat where people were working in teams and reflecting on their experience.  This was a significant change over the business-like retreats held in the past and my client wondered aloud  whether her organization would resonate with it or judge the activities to be too game-like.  After all, they all had been quite serious students earning advanced degrees in their specialty.

I could feel my client’s dilemma.  She wanted to spearhead a successful event AND she wanted to ignite some new energy around teamwork.   To her credit, my client decided to jump into the new interactive approach.  The risk she took was a testament to the degree of agility she has as a leader.  She changed an approach for a desired result.  This agility has been labeled,  “Situational Leadership”  by Ken Blanchard and can be further studied in his newest book, Leading At A Higher Level.

Last Wednesday was retreat day.  The assembled group took part in a round robin ice-breaker, “Knot the rope” team exercise and simulations devoted to teaming. The energy in the room was high throughout.  Some of those who my client least expected to be energized by the team-building activities rated the day with high marks.   People typically known to be hesitant in large groups were seen as leading.  Some who usually are out-spoken took leadership from others.  Agility abounded.

When have you purposely placed yourself in a new situation and adapted to it?  When have you delegated a task in order to help someone’s flexibility develop?

Collaboration as Performance Art

I’ve been studying Sacred Theater for years with a master teacher and actress, Peggy Rubin.  Sacred Theater is a workshop that Peggy offers to enable participants to look at their lives as performance art.  Sacred Theater players, as we participants are called, become playrights, directors, set designers, composers, choreographers and leading actors in our own productions.  There is creative challenge in many of the activities, a call for all to be daring and willing  to step out on the workshop space “stage” and always….always an abundance of fun.  I began this work as a way to spend time with close friends and to build my comfort being in my own skin.  What I  also discovered along the way was that having a shared, intimate, challenging experience with many of the same people year after year has taught me a lot about collaboration as an art form.   I’m recalling one workshop where we were asked to write a few lines of dialogue about a current life situation and take only 5 minutes to do so. We then were told to hand our writing to another player who then directed others to enact the dialogue in front of us.  In this scenario, I became the audience for my own writing.  I had chosen a difficult subject matter – the recent death of my adopted son’s birth mother. There was so much left unsaid between me and the woman who gave birth to my son  but I felt I only captured a taste of it in the lines I wrote.  What absolutely stunned me was  as my fellow workshop players enacted the conversation I would never be able to actually have, I experienced the comfort and closure I was strongly seeking.  The “stand-ins” for my story became my collaborators.  They took the words I wrote, riffed on them as actors do, and offered me the gift of finishing an unresolved  conversation.  If you would like to know more about Sacred Theater, collaboration through performance.  art as collaboration or performing art as collaborators, check out Peggy’s new book, To Be and How To Be:  Transforming Your Life Through The Nine Powers of Sacred Theater.