HIGH PERFORMING TEAMS COURSE by Ken Thompson - Topic 1 - Introduction

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In this initial 20-minute video, the first in the series, Ken Thompson introduces the topic of High Performing Teams by first highlighting the 4 big challenges teams face today:

  1. Fundamental Problems with the dominant model of teams (Command and Control)
  2. Defining the team’s boundary too narrowly to achieve success when the unexpected happens
  3. Creating a team which can deliver sustainably without burning out its members
  4. Maintaining the right balance of collaboration and competition in your teams

Ken continues by reviewing how the very nature of teams has evolved quite significantly over the last 15-20 years leading to where we find ourselves today - the relentless virtualization of teams in organizations.  Then to help us understand the many issues involved in successfully establishing and leading virtual teams, Ken proposes a simple but insightful model, The MARTINI Model of Virtual Teams which identifies 4 team scenarios in increasing order of team leadership challenge:

  • Same Time, Same Place: This is the traditional co-located team
  • Same Time, Any Place: This is where the team are in the same broad time zone but geographically dispersed
  • Any Time, Same Place: This is where the team is co-located but working different shifts
  • Any Time, Any Place: This is where the team is fully virtualised – different time zones and different geographies. This is the most challenging form of virtual team!

Ken then goes on to directly address the central issue of teams - how to create sustainable high performing teams (HPTs) and closes this video with an introduction to a well-defined integrated Model for sustainable HPTs development which can be used to achieve it.

The Figure of 8/RaceTrack model of HPTs holistically integrates the 4 key aspects of Team Process Development:

  • Communications
  • Meetings
  • Alignment & Accountability
  • Support and Systems

and the 4 key aspects of Team Change Management:

  • Insight & Relationships
  • Understanding & Influencing
  • Commitment
  • Support and Development 

Watch the other Videos

Video 1 (20:09 mins) HIGH PERFORMING TEAMS COURSE by Ken Thompson - Topic 1 - Introduction

Video 2 (11:12 mins) HIGH PERFORMING TEAMS COURSE by Ken Thompson - Topic 2 - Creating HPTs in a hurry!

Video 3 (09:03 mins) HIGH PERFORMING TEAMS COURSE by Ken Thompson - Topic 3 - The Processes of HPTs

Video 4 (08:32 mins) HIGH PERFORMING TEAMS COURSE by Ken Thompson - Topic 4 - Change Management for HPTs

Video 5 (08:22 mins) HIGH PERFORMING TEAMS COURSE by Ken Thompson - Topic 5 - HPT Leadership Tips

Further Reading from Ken Thompson on HIGH PERFORMING TEAMS

1. Bioteams: High Performance Teams Based on Nature’s Most Successful Designs

2. The Networked Enterprise: Competing for the Future Through Virtual Enterprise Networks

3. A Systematic Guide to High Performing Teams (HPTs)

4. A Systematic Guide to Collaboration and Competition within organizations

About Ken Thompson

Ken Thompson is an expert practitioner, author and speaker on collaboration, high performing teams and game-based learning. Ken is Founder of Dashboard Simulations who design, license and facilitate team business simulation games for leadership and management development. Ken has published 4 books on High Performing Teams and Effective Collaboration and tweets at @kenthompson and @dashboardsims.

 Video Transcript 

hi there I'm Ken Thompson and welcome to

my first video on my new course on high

performing teams I plan to do six or

seven modules I haven't quite decided

yet to give a full coverage of the whole

picture on high-performing teams so

let's get started what's all the fuss

about high-performing teams can it

really be that difficult I think it is

in this first video I'm going to review

the challenges of teams why things have

evolved in quite a significant way over

the last 15 to 20 years and how you can

go about creating teams that perform in

the first place so let's look at the

challenges of teams and as well as given

a little bit of introduction to myself

I've written four different books on

different aspects of teams and each book

deals with a specific core problem of

teams so if you look at all four books

together you see some of the challenges

and making a team work the first book I

wrote was bioteams which addresses

almost problem number one the model of

teams often used as command and control

which is often a single leader team and

whilst that is effective in some

situations it's generally not effective

in most business situations today while

you're alive totally on one person to

give all the direction and all the

leadership and you don't use the talents

of the other members of the team fully

so you need to think about your model of

team and if it's a single leader team

then it's probably not appropriate for

the kind of teamwork you're going to

need today the second issue of teams is

often we put two narrow borders and

boundaries around our team we define our

team too tightly and too small and we

don't collaborate well with people who

to create side the team and that means

that when the team needs a favor then

it's not in a great place to get help

from somebody else is not within that

core team so the second important

problem of teams is often we collaborate

far too narrow a the third problem of

things is how do you create a team that

actually does perform and actually

performs on an ongoing basis and that

was my more recent book on creating a

high-performing team and finally my very

most recent book collaboration and

competition within organizations address

is two myths about teams the first myth

is it's all gonna be sweetness and light

in your collaborative team and they will

not be competing with each other that is

not the way it is competition within

teams is normal and is actually quite

healthy the second myth is you cannot

collaborate with your competitors either

within the organization or outside the

organization so these are some of the

problems we find when we try to make a

team work the command the control

structure drawing our boundaries too

tightly how do you actually get the

performance you want from a team and

some of the realities of teamwork in

terms of competition being an integral

part of teamwork so those are the

challenges in having a team and there's

a number of other challenges as well but

the second challenge is that

organizational teams are on the move

it's not a static target they're

continually changing year in year right

and it's a number of things we're seeing

first of all and I've alluded to it the

self managed idea of things and books

like The Starfish and the Spider and

Ricardo Semler writings and thoughts on

themes all about self-managed teams

self-organizing teams and collectively

led team

I prefer the idea of a collectively led

team where there's there is leadership

but it's distributed self-managed teams

are a difficult thing to do

the second thing is intra and Inter

organizational collaboration movements

like agile have created teams that have

multi multi different disciplines multi

professions in the team and each of

those professions brings their own

culture and things like collaborative

supply chains and clusters and business

networks have created the whole

challenge of inter organizational

collaboration where many organizations

are actually virtual as an organization

with lots of different parts all of

which are different legal entities

social networks we're all familiar with

the LinkedIn the Twitter and the

Facebook's and here we're starting to

collaborate with hundreds of people

thousands of people most of which we'll

never meet and collaborating in a very

light touch way then we have virtual

communities which is trying to bring the

disciplines and thinking of social

networks inside the organization to make

sure organizations can communicate

better and exploit opportunities and

share knowledge better and the final

thing that's really that muddy and the

water and things is this whole movement

towards virtual teams and we can define

a virtual team as a group of individuals

who work across time space

organizational cultural boundaries

supported by tools and technologies and

this is a big movement at the minute

towards the virtualization of teams and

if you look at the research and surveys

on virtual teams my pick on it is we've

talked about it on and off a long time

around about

2012 to 2013 Virtual Tings actually

started to kick-in

real time we sort of past the tipping

point this is a survey very recently

April 2016 which tells us that 85

percent of respondents work in virtual

teams many of these people also work in

multiple teams because when you work in

a virtual team you can spread yourself

quite thin

that's called leverage and that's one of

the reasons why organizations are doing

it and almost half of the people in the

survey reported that 50 percent of their

teams include members of other cultures

and that is a really big challenge 42

percent 41 percent actually report that

their virtual teams never meet in person

and that's a big issue because when you

don't meet in person as a team generally

it's much more easy to let people dying

that's why people if they want to tell a

lie or be economically the truth prefer

to do it over the phone so that's a

challenge when teams never meet in

person we will talk more of about

literal in the course but the other

interesting thing is it's getting more

and more diverse every year and more

geographical distribution more cultural

diversity more cross disciplinary focus

and gender diversity and so everybody's

moving that quite appears towards

virtual teams will not exactly everybody

for example quite recently IBM came out

with a directive suggesting that their

workforce should try to come back to the

office a lot more and they didn't quite

ban virtual teams but it nearly got

there and one of the issues for them

they're saying is when everybody's

working virtually at you miss

opportunities for serendipity people

aren't in the office bumping in having a

coffee talking about a problem somebody

overhearing so they believe that too

much virtualization reduces the

opportunity for information serendipity

which is quite true but that's also only

the case if

did badly so virtual things are getting

bigger and bigger and if you're not

already dealing with them you will have

to deal with them and virtual teams

bring a number of benefits which we'll

talk about later but they make teams

even harder to do they don't make

anything anyway easier for you so I'm

going to offer you a little model to

help you think about virtual teams I

call it the martini model martini is

anytime and you place anywhere and

there's four quadrants so a team can be

a same x in place team it can be a same

time anyplace team it can be an any time

simply esteem and then the most virtual

and distributive the lot anytime

anyplace and if we start in the bottom

left traditional teams have been in the

same time simpliest

we're in the same room same building at

the same time and we've difficulties

enough for these kind of things as they

are if we draw a horizontal line across

the diagram below the line we're still

in the same place above the line we're

in any cliffs and so above the line we

have the virtual team zone below the

line we have the cool located team zone

and if we look in the rightmost quadrant

this is a type of team that doesn't get

much talked about but is actually used

quite a lot it's any time in the same

place and if you think about it this

could be a shift team where there's a

shift then they all work and they go off

on another shift comes in it can be job

sharing and this needs a certain form of

teamwork support and it does need

technology the technology can be just a

board on the room you're all coming into

you when you check in you see where the

last teams left things it could also be

technology enabled as well

so let's look above the line as we go

into the true virtual team zone on the

left hand side we have same time any

place so in this type of virtual team

and you're distributed but you're older

generally through the working day

together and that means you can have

meetings you can't have face-to-face

meetings but you can have virtual

meetings you you can look at each

other's eyes using technologies like

Skype WebEx and Adobe Connect and but if

we go to the right-hand side the top

right quadrant this is the most

difficult form of virtual team and

you're in different places and you're

also in different time zones and this

creates a lot of benefits for example

what they call follow-the-sun working

where your team can effectively be

working because it's distributed a

course of time zones on on a continual

basis but technology wise it's a little

more difficult because there may be only

some overlap in the working days so

we're talking about here where you're in

the Norn overlap period of the working

days for technology you need it to then

really think about asynchronous

communications you can't do it in real

time you need to use your email you need

the user workflow software and you need

to use your virtual project rooms so

let's look a little bit more at the norm

technology issues that are above the

line in the virtual team zone the first

issue is the people who are remote from

you maybe in a different environment and

that means a couple of things first of

all they may be distracted by requests

from their managers the managers might

be putting all sorts of pressure on them

that you don't know about taking them

away from the activities in your team it

can also as I mentioned before being

multiple things so they may be


certain times because there's other

pressures on them and you don't realize

what those pressures are and another

factor which is a really big one which

we will talk about quite a lot later in

the course is culture and there's three

different aspects of culture I want to

think about first of all the national

culture and we're going to look at

different models for national culture

and this can cause real problems in

virtual teams the second thing is if

it's a cross organization you can have

different organizational cultures

fighting with each other and finally you

can have different professional cultures

if you've ever tried to organize

meetings between marketing people and

engineers you understand some of the

difficulties in that third type of

culture so obviously some of those

issues can also apply when you're all in

the same building as well as I'm sure

you well know so we've looked at some of

the challenges in running effective

teams we've looked at this whole problem

of virtualization and I've given you a

little model that can help you think

about virtual teams which we'll go into

in a bit more detail in another one of

the videos let's copy this a bit and say

well how do we create things that

actually are high-performing and one of

the exercises I do with people I say

then let's imagine you've been given the

task of creating a high-performing team

what would you actually do and I give

people a few minutes to write down two

or three things that they would do so

maybe just take a minute just to think

of if you were asked to create

high-performance in a group of people

what would be obvious things the top

three that would be on your list so you

I have cooked dine improve the meeting

practices for example or you might have

put down I need to get this difficult

individual some training or be with why

they're not motivated so those are the

kinds of things you might have thought

about and what I generally then ask

people is this question is the creation

of a high-performing team a change

management project or a process

development project and the answer is

it's a good Irish question because the

answer is yes it's both of these things

and you have to do both at the same time

and it's interesting that each of us I

believe has a different bias and the

different blind spot for example I'm

more a process development person than a

change management person so if you ask

me to identify what needs to be done

I will generally come up with process

steps whereas somebody else might come

up with change management steps so this

is vital that you understand that when

you're setting up a high-performing team

successfully you need to do both of

these at the same time so if you just do

the change management site and get

everybody all excited about being in the

team but you don't fix the processes and

for example you have terrible meetings

you'll do a in all the energy and

enthusiasm you created on the change

management side if you just start

defining processes processes for

meetings processes for decisions process

for this and not without actually

getting people on board you will have a

very sterile process development project

and you'll not create high performance

out of that as well so what I'm going to

offer you now is an another model a bit

like the Martini model and this one

we're also going to develop in a lot

more detail in subsequent videos and

this is my integrated model for creating

a high-performing team on the left-hand

side of the model we have the process

development work and on the right-hand

side we have the

management work and if we look first of

all at the process development work

there's four main areas that are

absolutely vital communications

processes makings processes alignment

and accountability process and support

processes you need to address these and

each of these break down into four lower

levels which I'll explore a bit later on

I'll also suggest a very useful tool for

doing this because one of the things you

need to do first of all is a process

health check you need to talk with the

team members and established which parts

of the process are working fine and

which parts are broken or absent and so

it's not one size fits all you need to

start with a health check you also then

need to set some priorities some

processes are more important than others

and you need to fix those first and

we'll talk a lot more about that later

so that's the process side of setting of

the team the second side is the change

management side that's working with

every individual is going to be on that

team and it's a pretty much classic

change management approach it starts

from getting insight and building a

relationship with an individual gaining

understanding of what's important to

them how they're thinking and

influencing them and then seeking their

commitment that you really want to get

your team members committed to the team

and committed to playing some sort of

leadership support role in the team so

that it's really a collectively led team

and finally if you ask people to commit

to these kind of rules you need to come

in and support them now these two go

together it's like a car and the racing

driver or a train on the track you can't

do one without the other the process

development work will underpin

everything you do on change management

and the change management will enhance

everything you do on own

on process development so that's our

model we're going to explore it in a lot

more detail in subsequent videos so the

second video and we're going to really

hit the ground running one of the

questions I get asked over and over

again is I've got a bunch of people and

I need to make them a team by tomorrow

how do you go about doing that so I'm

going to share with you some techniques

a process and some learnings from

disciplines such as game based learning

for how you can create an effective team

very quickly indeed

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