Team Renaissance: The Structure and Process of Success

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By Raluca Manolache

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world.” 
—Margaret Mead

Now ask, ‘What might those groups accomplish within the workplace?”

While the quest to increase organizational effectiveness is not a new one, it has become an indispensable need, rather than an option for companies of all sizes. In an information-saturated era of rapid and constant change, much has been written on the value of every individual’s intrinsic energies as they pertain to innovation and productivity.

However, as recognized by Richard Spoon and Jan Risher, co-authors of Team Renaissance:The Art, Science and Politics of Great Teams, the structures and processes inherent within many organizations prevent and discourage the fullest expression of those energies.

Organizational Process and Team Potential
Even though there is nothing inherently negative about processes, in time they become static, then derided and upheld as “the way things are done here”.  In a competitive business environment, the result damages the overall performance throughout an organization. In contrast, an ongoing revision and renewal of processes strengthens teams with newfound clarity, fosters engagement and allows individuals, teams and organizations alike to thrive.

As Spoon and Risher artfully illustrate throughout—and anchor visually with ‘the arch’—processes can be used to instill positive patterns within an organization. Supported by principled leadership, accountability and autonomy, processes bring out passion in people, both ‘allowing’ and aligning their intrinsic energies to optimum organizational potential.

Intrinsic energies are both voluntary and extraordinary.  While employees are paid for a function, people volunteer their creativity. Herein every individual holds the potential to become actively involved on a whole other level of productivity.

The Arch-itecture of Successful Teams
What the authors of Team Renaissance provide is equal parts impetus, architecture and insights to sustain for organizational effectiveness. If there is a formula for success, Spoon and Risher make a strong case for it waiting to be found in structure, tools and teams. They also provide a working model—‘The Arch’.

The Arch supplies both an apt visual metaphor and a useful tool for any organization seeking to improve core processes. Just as the classic arch provides strong support to a physical structure, well-thought core processes support strong teams.

Nine Building Blocks of Better Teams
What the authors anchor with their Arch are the nine key performance characteristics of exceptional teams—providing a roadmap for HR professionals, managers and anyone with an interest in personal leadership and tapping team potential.

To unlock those ‘Go Team!’ energies is neither a riddle nor a puzzle in the pages of Team Renaissance which encourages the consideration of nine basic building blocks:

  1. Clear Direction
  2. Common Measures
  3. Efficient Practices
  4. Defined Roles
  5. Sharp Insights
  6. Relevant Rewards
  7. Consistent Communication
  8. Solid Culture
  9. Team Leader

Clear Direction and Strong Leadership
Clear direction is the keystone. Defining purpose and direction gives teams a clear line of sight. Given clear, inspiring direction, people are far more likely to share hidden or latent talents. Spoon and Risher pull a good quote from George Lucas on the matter:  “Everybody has talent—it’s just a matter of moving around until you’ve discovered what it is.”

To recognize, regard and put to good purpose those individual talents requires a team leader with a firm grasp of the roadmap and its responsibilities.  As a “chief possibilities officer”, the team leader can empower and inspire most by improving process.

Most employees within any organization want to be involved; all leaders seek to potential to reduce turnover, inspire innovation and create a happier, healthier, more productive workplace. This is why the authors hold it essential that team leaders go deeper to explore not only the potential of their people, but their underlying processes.

The Sum of Synergy
The benefit of doing results in synergy in its most fundamental form.  As throughout Team Renaissance, Spoon and Risher tap into another authored authority on such matters, Stephen R. Covey, who sums it up well: “What is synergy? Simply defined, it means that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Synergy is the essence of principle-centered leadership. It catalyzes, unifies and unleashes the greatest powers within people.”

Likewise, the nine building blocks of the Arch—anchored by clear purpose, fueled  by constant communications and driven by empowering and insightful team leaders—opens new doors of opportunity within any organization.

Raluca Manolche is a driven HR professional with experience in media, government and not-for-profit organizations who enjoys growing her HR knowledge through good books and great people alike.

(PeopleTalk Summer 2014)

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