To its customers, it looked like an exciting and highly professional outfit. Yet for its staff, every week was chaos.

They speculated over whether their leader’s entrepreneurialism and opportunistic approach meant that they would always be “winging it”. Their organisation, they said, was like the swan that glides gracefully across the surface yet kicks madly beneath the waterline.

Could they find a way of being both ‘cutting-edge’ and systematic? The solution turned out to be a couple of things: a change of mindset and a process for encoding their learning.

The Change of Mindset

In pausing to become more effective, the team explored the dimension that red10 calls ‘Identity’ and discovered that they were right about their leader needing excitement in order to be motivated.

Immediately, this appeared to be in conflict with the rest of the team’s need to plan ahead and to know that everything was under control.

Yet, with facilitation, they discovered that they all had the same Vision and purpose.

This common ground – which we sometimes refer to as the team’s ‘True North’ – provided a platform upon which the whole team, including the leader, were able to agree to do the basics so well, they would be freed up to be more creative.

Encoding the Learning

With the support of the leader, the team agreed new ways of working – part of what red10 calls Execution. This included:

  • An annual calendar, so that events didn’t come as a surprise amongst the regular pattern of products and services
  • Clarity on who had accountability for the event, so everyone knew who to talk to and who made the final decision rather than relying on the leader as the first point of call.
  • A high-level plan for each event
  • A meeting every other month to look at the big picture and plan ahead
  • A weekly meeting to review the delivered events and capture the learning for next time, together with some time to check that the next week’s events were on track.

Within a year, the team had found that they had coded up all the basics and were now able to lift their game and be more creative. The leader really liked this.

The team also discovered that Learning had become a habit for them. It had become natural for them to review an event shortly afterwards, celebrate what had worked well, and capture their thinking for next time in a way that they knew would be helpful when that event came around again.

Having put in place four of the 9-Dimensions of Team Effectiveness, the team were now ready to focus on the other five, knowing that these too would help them to perform at a higher level.

Could your team benefit from making learning a habit? What ways of working would help make this happen?