Patrick Lencioni, author of The Advantage and key proponent of clarity through over-communication, asks leaders to ponder the following questions with their team members: why do we exist, how do we behave, what do we do, how will we succeed, what is most important right now, and who must do what? These are a few of the questions smart teams ask themselves regularly in order to stay focused on the prize of greater productivity, accountability and commitment.
We have a favorite team exercise we invented to help the team articulate its promise to itself and to those engaged with them. It's called Be-Do-Have and takes about an hour from start to finish in three easy steps.
Materials: flip chart paper, markers, a scribe or facilitator (preferably not a team member) who writes very fast but clearly.
At the top of the flip chart page write "What We Do" and invite the team members to call out Action Verbs that describe what the team does. The scribe writes them quickly on the flip chart paper without asking for clarification or stopping to edit. Encourage action verbs only, no descriptive phrases. [For example, Invent, Challenge, Solve, Debate, Research, Explore, etc.] Tear off and post on the wall.
At the top of this flip chart page write "In Order to Get or Have …" and invite team members to identify the goals, outcomes or results the team achieves or experiences by doing what it does. So, the team would finish the sentence: “We (use one of the action verbs created earlier) in order to get or have what? [For example: immediate success, engaged employees, positive impact, money in the bank, customer commitment, etc.] Tear off the paper and post on the wall.
At the top of this flip chart page write "By being" … and again have team members call out phrases that describe how they interact with each other, with the work, and with others. [For example, by being confident, respectful, action oriented, decisive, thoughtful, colorful, risk takers, etc.]
In order to pull these lists together into a cohesive statement, take about 45 minutes to craft a paragraph that draws from these nouns, verbs, and adjectives the heart of the team's commitment and promise to itself and to others. Either the whole team can do this (if it's a small group) or a subset of 3 or 4 who are articulate and good at synthesizing. The energy, enthusiasm, and inspired action that emerge from these interactions infuses a freshness to the discussion of “Who are we?” and helps to develop a high-functioning team.
Here is a sample from one of our clients:
We, the senior team, lead by example to develop, inspire, and encourage a positive culture for the enrichment of tomorrow's leaders. As a cohesive team we drive results, achieve metrics and exceed customer expectations. We exhibit fearless commitment to operating with high integrity in our communication with engagement at all levels, delivering excellence in every interaction from our distribution center to the customer.
Try our Be-Do-Have exercise to build your smart team and let us know what you create!