High Impact Teaming Theory
"If you want to go fast, go alone?
If you want to go far, go together!"
In this section, we give a short introduction to the scientific basis of the Team Mirror: the High Impact Teaming-model (HIT-Model). We discuss 5 groups of variables that distinguish High Impact Teams from other teams: Team Learning, Visioning, Organizing, Safe Teaming and Individual Impact. The sixth group of variables: ‘Context’ is not discussed. Context-variables can have a crucial impact, but often they are not positioned in the circle of influence of the team. That is why we didn’t include any of these context variables in the Team Mirror. For more information about the model, we refer you to the book ‘High Impact Teaming’, written by Stefan Decuyper, Elisabeth Raes & Anne Boon. You can order the book via www.bol.com or www.managementboek.nl (for now, only available in Dutch).
High Impact Teams get to their results in a sustainable way: now and again, and again, and again. They work on the essential things and are perceived as such by their environment. But what is High Impact Teaming? We explain it on the basis of an example. Imagine, you are in a team of explorers that is searching for the holy grail in a small boat.
Visioning helps the crew to develop a shared vision about where they want to navigate to and why. The vision gives the team direction, a route and most importantly tons of energy. It is the shared awareness of the direction of the team, the endpoint on the horizon. Next to the shared vision, effective teams also co-create shared mental models about the situation they are in today and the different ways to close the gap between the present and the future.
The shared vision can only be implemented through systems and people – the boat and the crew. Organizing ensures that the boat sails as efficient as possible, through the right structures, systems and routines. It is possible, for example, to enlarge the width of the oars to put in more power and sail faster. You can also agree on a division of roles with the rowers, the captain and the drummer to create rhythm and predictability. An efficient organization ensures that the energy of the team members doesn’t move in a hundred different directions, but floats automatically in the direction of the shared vision. Chaotic and rigid teams waist a lot of energy. Teams that have everything under control save energy and work towards their goals in a smarter way.
Safe teaming ensures that the crew feels safe to communicate openly and honestly and to be vulnerable. It ensures that you find out who would like to do what and who is good at what. It also helps to know how your colleagues are sitting in the boat or when somebody is likely to fall overboard. Safe teaming is about creating psychological safety. The shared belief that the team is safe for interpersonal risk taking (asking questions, giving & receiving feedback, admitting mistakes, etc.)
One thing is sure: the situation inside and outside of teams changes constantly. At a given moment, you realize that the shared topographical plan is not correct and you are sailing in the wrong direction; that a hitch in the system costs tons of energy; or that many things are happening underneath the water level that negatively influence the functioning of the safety net. On these moments, Visioning, Organizing or Safe Teaming suddenly become very curial to refresh the collaboration.
Visioning, Organizing, and Safe Teaming are three examples of Team Learning. These are examples of what teams can do to refresh themselves, their vision, their organization and their culture. And to adjust to internal changes or changes in their environment. They do it by slowing down to go faster. Research consistently shows that team learning makes a team more effective. It is what teams do to discover their own formula for success: feedback & STEP (Stop – Think – Evaluate – Proceed). Feedback is probably not a new concept to you, but what is STEP about?
- STOP: Dare to stop the team, bring the adrenaline down. Do this to make sure everyone is ready to think and listen to each other.
- THINK: Share all ideas in the team: ideas about the situation, but also about opportunities you see. Think and share together. Don't be afraid to move out of the box! Seek Ideas that are invented by someone else or at other moments in time. But above all: listen and ask each other open questions. Make sure that the quieter team members are also involved in the process. Thinking together means you create an overview of the possibilities you have to proceed.
- EVALUATE: Select and/or combine the ideas keeping in what is important to the team. Be creative, but dare to challenge each other and actively search for feedback. Without good fights, you can't harvest the real power of the diversity in your team. The endpoint of this third step is a (temporary) shared agreement.
- PROCEED: Have the discipline and courage to concretize and execute what you chose to do. Keep each other accountable for decisions made. Fine-tune the plan and make clear what the result should look like and what you expect from every member of the team. Sometimes it makes sense to agree on the timing for the next STEP and to plan how you want to follow up on the team's progress.
The last group of variables in the HIT-Model are about the individual impact of the team members: the crew on the boat. Individual Impact is about habits, mindsets, roles, and so on. These variables are the basis for everything that happens in the team. That is why it is crucial to give room to the individual part of the Team Mirror report during the Team Mirror-workshop. It helps you to investigate what every individual team member can do to enlarge their own effectivity and that of the team. After all: either individual team members engage in something, or nothing happens.
A last component of the HIT-Model is invisible in the visualization of the model: Trust. Due to practical circumstances, the variables measuring Trust are added to the section Safe Teaming. Trust is crucial for High Impact Teaming, because there is only one certainty in teams and that is that you know nothing for sure. You are not really sure if the other team members really want to go in the same direction and believe the team will succeed; if they really adhere to the made agreements; or if they will react positively if you show them the real you; or if the energy you invest in Team Learning will really lead to constructive changes and consequently produce more energy.
Without the trust that Team Learning makes sense, you won't even start. It is the oil in the HIT-gearbox: without the oil, moving forward costs tons of energy and it goes a lot slower. Trust is often presented as a crucial piece of the puzzle. But we see it differently. Trust is the glue that keeps the pieces of the puzzle together.