“What was the best team you’ve been on?” I struggled to answer this when it was asked on a recent team coaching course I was on. Then, when I heard others’ answers, I felt as thought I had missed out on a really great experience. I believe many other people have not had the joy of being on a ‘high performing’ team, so I was keen to learn the team coaching skills which could help more people have a better team working experience.
The course was on ‘Team Diagnostics’ and run by Team Coaching International. They have four guiding principles for working with teams:
- Teams exist to produce results
- The team is a living system
- Team members want to be on high performing teams and want to contribute
- The team has within it the means to excel
Teams are measured on their positivity and productivity, and the team coach will debrief them on their results using graphics such as these:
The key is that the team is treated as a system, there is no focus on individual team members.
This course made me realise the importance of the state of the team for how creative it is. If ideas tend to happen in fluid networks (see ‘Where good ideas come from’ by Steven Johnson), then the team strengths (in the polar diagram above) of communication, camaraderie, constructive interaction, values diversity, respect, trust, goals and strategies, and accountability are fundamental.
The overall ratings on positivity and productivity (see the quadrant diagram above) could also be considered important for idea development. Ideas need to be nurtured, so require a positive, ‘Yes, and…’ environment to thrive. Ideas also need a productive environment – some momentum and hard work in order to develop.
Two of the guiding principles I mentioned earlier struck a chord with me in terms of creativity:
- ‘The team is a living system’ – creativity is abundant in vibrant situations where “bundles of potentiality manifest their potential in relationship with each other” (from Margaret Wheatley). Creativity needs a ‘living system’ of relationships to survive.
- ‘The team has within it the means to excel’ – A quote from Steven Johnson’s book mentioned earlier is appropriate here: “This is not the wisdom of the crowd, but the wisdom of someone in the crowd. It’s not that the network itself is smart; it’s that individuals get smarter because they’re connected to the network.” (p.58) Creative ideas exist within each team member, and this creativity will grow and expand just by each individual being connected to the team network.
After three days of learning about teams, I feel I not only have the skills to coach teams, but also, more ideas on the behaviours which encourage creativity.
Is your team a positive and productive fluid network which nurtures ideas? How important do you think teams are for engendering creativity?