Making Teams Extraordinary

Geoff Bellman and co-author Kathleen Ryan reveal in their book Extraordinary Groups: How Ordinary Teams Achieve Amazing Results that people instinctively sense when a group experience is something special, something different from the ordinary, something that surpasses their expectations in a positive, remarkable, and hard-to-describe way. Based on extensive research, the book presents the Group Needs Model to help anyone nurture extraordinary experiences in their groups and achieve outstanding results.  Teamwork

Download PDF Transcript of Podcast

Note: This is a transcription of a podcast. It has not gone through a professional editing process and may contain grammatical errors or incorrect formatting.

Related Podcast:  Transforming Ordinary Teams to Extraordinary

Joe Dager:  Welcome everyone. This is Joe Dager, the host of the Business901 podcast. With me today is Geoff Bellman. Geoff has worked with large organizations for 40 years, 14 as an internal consultant and manager, and 26 as an external consultant. He has written 6 books, with 300,000 in print, and in a dozen languages. His latest book, “Extraordinary Groups: How Ordinary Teams Achieve Amazing Results”, was published by Jossey?Bass.

Geoff, I’d like to welcome you, and the title of your book just begs me to ask the basic question: How would you define, or maybe a better question would be, what makes a group extraordinary?

Geoff Bellman:  Well, thank you for inviting me to be here on your podcast, Joe. I was listening to you say a few words about me, and I’m thinking, “God, this guy must be old.” 40 years and 6 books! Wow! And there’s truth in that, I am old.

The Extraordinary Groups piece, an interesting thing for me, that ties to your question is, when my co?author, Kathleen Ryan and I started working on writing a book together about teams, or groups, or whatever, it took us a while before we decided, let’s write about really great groups.

How are we going to find out what really great groups are? Well, let’s go out into the marketplace, and talk with people who are part of great groups by their own definition.

So tied to your inquiry about what’s an extraordinary group, we said, extraordinary groups in what we’ve written about and in our field study are defined by the people that are in them. So basically, to over simplify a little bit, we went to a wide array of people, and we said, “Have you ever been a part of a really great group that just really moved you in lots of ways?”

A surprising thing to us was; I’d guess 75, 80 percent of the people that we talked with said yes. And they loved it, and the problem is with many of them, they’re not in a really great group right now.

But the short answer to your question is for us, an extraordinary group is one that achieves outstanding results while the members of that group experience a profound shift in how they see the world. And the emphasis being on that little three?letter word, see.

This is not about new skills, these extraordinary groups. Their skills look kind of like other groups’ around them that aren’t as extraordinary. This is not about a pile of training. No. They’ve had training, more, less training depending upon the group.

This is about their perception of their world, the world that they work in. A positive perception, a perception that causes them to innovate, causes them to risk, and causes them to deliver really great results.

Joe:  Well, can you really make an extraordinary group happen, or does it just happen?

Geoff:  That was a question that we had early on. After finding out a lot about what we think extraordinary groups are, we’d say, in answer to your question, Kathy, and I would say, “Joe, here are some elements that seem to be important to a lot of different, extraordinary groups. You’re better off trying to put these elements in place, trying to sprinkle these elements around than just sit back and say wow, it just happens.”

Often in our interviews we heard people saying, “That group was just magical,” or “It was chemistry, or we were a really special group.” All those kinds of things, it’s a lot like when people talk about romance, actually.

Really, it is. I don’t know how you would do that again. Many of the people that we interviewed said that. We said, “We get that magical part; we’ve experienced that.” In fact early on we heard the word magic so often, that we considered titling the book “The Magic of Extraordinary Groups” or “Extraordinary Teams”.

But we said, that’s not much of a service, let’s try to be more helpful here. Let’s try to really create these groups. So we identified some elements that we think are useful, and we think you’re better off pursuing the things we identified than just laying back and saying, “Wow, that was great. I don’t know what happened, but it was wonderful.”

Joe:  So your research led you to some actual things that you can apply. It wasn’t just this touchy?feely type stuff?

Geoff:  True. Yeah, that’s very true. That’s central to the field study; that’s central to the book. We identified eight performance indicators; we identified six needs, and we identified four feelings that are common to extraordinary groups. But I don’t want to let go of that touchy?feely side entirely. You’ll find a bit of it woven through some of those eight, six, and four things I just mentioned.

More important is, to our notion, extraordinary groups are defined by the people inside the group. One of the ways they define those groups is about how they feel about it. That’s the touchy?feely side. That’s what sets this group apart from all those rational analytic groups over here that have all the skills present, but just don’t have the magic.

So I don’t want to dismiss the touchy?feely side, and I don’t want to exaggerate it either. I’m saying, if you just say it’s all touchy?feely, well, you’re really missing the boat.

Joe:  Did you find anything as far as how the group was constructed, whether it was like a baseball team or a S.W.A.T. Team, or any of the different team models that you talk about or that people talk about. Did you find any one that offered a better chance to be extraordinary?

Geoff:  The short answer would be no, in terms of type of group. I think that, to put it too briefly; I’ll elaborate further later, if you ask the right question, but extraordinary groups are joined in purpose, they’re joined together, glued together, somehow, for a purpose.

We talked to 60 of them. People from 60 of them, we didn’t talk to everybody from every group, but let me give you some samples of the groups that we talked about. Motorcycle club, white water rafters going down the Colorado River for three weeks, soccer players, a Special Forces platoon in Iraq, software developers, nurses, basketball team, barbershop quartet, jazz quintet, healthcare administrators, a neighborhood group that’s organized around the safety of the neighborhood, product design team, financial leadership team in Switzerland.

A whole array of people and groups. Why? Because we decided early, no, what we’re testing early on, our thesis was that great groups have a huge amount in common. I mean if you got all those different groups together in one room, what we believe is they could come up with what it is that they share that they really value about being with a small group of people.

Joe:  You touched upon something, right there at the very end, is a small group. Because that’s how you started out the book, is with talking about a small group and here you are someone that deals with large corporations and then you started out by talking small. Is that how an extraordinary group develops, does start out small? Can you have an extraordinary large group?

Geoff:  Yes, you can have an extraordinary large group. But the dynamics are so complex, I mean, we focused on groups of two to 20. Actually if I were to do all that over again, I’d be more likely, I don’t know what Kathleen would say, but I’d be more likely to focus on groups of two to nine; a little bit related to your earlier question.

One thing that these great groups have in common is that they are small and the smaller groups, those that are more up to nine, seem to have better results, fewer dynamics. They are; you know a lot less complex than a group of 20.

By the way, I keep using this word “group” over and over again. There are a lot of groups that we talk to that don’t identify with the word “team,” and that’s why we chose the word “group.” I’m not sure it’s such a great marketing decision, but from the standpoint of what we’re doing, it’s a good, accurate decision.

We would fit like all those people that are tuned into this podcast right now, many of them are on teams, ’cause that’s a lot about what the quality, continuous improvement, Agile development, all that stuff is about teams. We would put those teams under the umbrella of groups.

But there are others, other groups that are highly effective, that don’t identify with the word “team” at all. They see it as too competitive a term or that it’s laden with sports metaphors that kind of thing that doesn’t fit with where they are.

Joe:  You make a good point there because, you know, so oftentimes we always use the sports metaphors to explain teams. Can that be poor to do it that way?

Geoff:  There are a significant number of people listening right now who are on, who are in groups that are called teams, and they’re saying: “This is a team? What the hell kind of team is this?” “This doesn’t fit with all that sports stuff. We’re not joined…”

So the label on them is a label that is a little bit misleading. It says that we are joined together for a purpose when we’re not. In that sports metaphor, there’s the “win, lose” aspect of that, as opposed to the “win, win” kind of aspect of it.

Let me give you an example. Here’s a tough one, kind of illustrates it. There’s a woman that we interviewed who’s part of a virtual group that extends across North America. What that…those people have never met. The people in this group, there are, I don’t know, 24 to 40 of them depending on when you tune in. They stay in touch via phone but primarily via computer, website, email, that kind of thing.

What these many people share is they are all parents, and they are all parents of children, preschool children, with diagnosed mental illnesses. The woman we interviewed has a child that was preschool at the time and has four diagnosed illnesses.

Well, nobody in her town, no other parents in her town understand her situation, but people across the nation do, thanks to the Internet and all, they can get together. This woman often talked to people in that group, six to 10 times a day, getting support for this very difficult child, support from other parents that know what it’s like to have a child like that.

That group, no way, does that group conceive of itself as a team. No way is the sports metaphors appropriate to that group. No high?fiving here. No, this is really down, difficult, important stuff. And it’s a very tight group of people that have never even met each other.

Joe:  Well you stole one of my questions here because I was going to ask you, can you have an extraordinary group virtually? And that’s a great example of one right there.

Geoff:  Yes and it’s probably the extreme of virtual groups because they never have met, and most, about 15 percent of the groups that we talked to, or people from the groups that we talked to were primarily virtual. 75 percent or more of their work took place virtually. A lot of those virtual teams saw each other once a year, once a quarter, something like that. But they were on a tight team that worked together daily over the Internet.

Joe:  So that is pretty commonplace anymore then.

Geoff:  One of the things that’s come up a few times in keynotes I’ve done, like the one with the Better Software Conference in Las Vegas last week, what you do in a virtual team, to make it extraordinary, that’s different from a face?to?face team.

Looking at our own experience and looking at our interviews, I would say a short answer would be: You’re meeting the same needs. The members of the team have the same needs whether they’re face?to?face or virtual.

So you look for ways to glue them together. You look for what makes this team stick together, be on the tasks that are before them. The tasks have some effective glue, but there’s a social element.

Along the way, by the way, as an aside, we interviewed a woman with a large computer?oriented corporation whose, she was kind of, I don’t know what she would call herself, but she was kind of the cyber?mom. Her job, within the virtual world of that organization, was to help glue teams together.

She did that from her home on the East coast, on the Eastern seaboard somewhere. She worked at joining teams all over the world, paying attention to that glue so that more likely they would come out to be really great teams, deliver great results, rather than just ho?hum teams.

Joe:  So that was actually her particular job?

Geoff:  Yes. Yes, very interesting job. We looked for a way of including her experience. It’s more woven through all that we thought about and wrote about. In some ways, you’d say she deserves a chapter.

But this is not a book on virtual teams. This is a book that some virtual teams will find useful, but not primarily about the virtual world.

Joe:  Talked about four patterns that were really the group experience and they were energized, connected, hopeful, and changed. Does a group have to have all of them to be extraordinary?

Geoff:  No, let me say a couple of things about them first. Energized, connected, hopeful, changed are feelings that people have during or as a result of being engaged with an extraordinary group.

You can have some of those feelings occasionally, in a group that’s less than extraordinary. In a really great group, it is likely, we believe, it’s likely that you’d have all four of those. Especially the first three, energize, connected, and hopeful.

When we did our interviews with people from these 60 groups, a concluding question we had been kind of in summary, how did you feel being part of this really great group experience? They responded readily. That was an easy question for people to answer.

Back to your point about touchy?feely, when you ask them the touchy?feely questions, how did you feel about it? People just pour out feelings that they had great feelings that they had about being in a group.

We had over 400 words and phrases that came out of these interviews. Then Kathleen and I said, “Well, what feelings do they have in common? If we had to boil it down to a handful, about, what feelings would we boil it down to based on what we heard from them?”

We came up with we think that people in the extraordinary groups we talked to would respond with a strong affirmative to the questions, did this experience energize you and your group? Yes, they would say yes.

Did you feel more connected to your group, to yourself, to your purpose, to the world around you as a result of this? Yes.

Did you feel more hopeful about yourself, about the world, about the purpose your group was pursuing as a result of this? Yes.

Did you feel changed by this group experience? Yes, a little weaker yes there.

Yes, for people who were experiencing the first extraordinary group they’d experienced in a long time. They would say strongly yes.

People that are used to being in great groups, they’d say, “Well, I wasn’t changed so much this time, but I can remember when I was.”

We see those four feelings as outputs to, outputs from an extraordinary group experience. They are indicative that something important went on. The more of those you’ve got going, the more likely it is an extraordinary group experience. But, they are outputs.

If I were trying to make a group extraordinary, I wouldn’t focus first of all on the feelings, outputs. I’d be more likely to focus on what they can do before and during the group experience to make it likely that those feelings were an output.

Joe:  How much of this depends on the individuals in the group? You can have one sour apple that spoils the whole thing, of course, but do the individuals within the group have to have a certain mindset?

Geoff:  There are some groups that it clearly works better with. A little bit about the individuals in the group, but it’s also about the group purpose.

Let’s take the Agile development folks and let’s take software development in general, because I happened to be with them last week and talked to a bunch of them at this conference.

One thing I noted, actually they noted it to me, is they said, “One, look around this conference, and you’re going to see a lot of guys. You’re going to see a lot of guys that were drawn to software development. They didn’t come to software development primarily because they wanted to get together with a bunch of other guys and have a good time while they developed software.”

Somebody else said somebody who consults to the software world. He said, “There are a lot of introverts in this room. Pay attention to that as you talk to them. Know that a lot of these people are drawn toward working alone rather than working with others.”

So, to your question, Joe, yes, people that are more drawn to working with each other in a noncompetitive setting are more drawn to the things that you need to do to make extraordinary groups.

But, the Agile world is telling us if you want to get the task done and you want to get it done in a really great and time efficient manner, then scrum, then join together, meet daily, standup meetings, meet with a client, regular basis, and you will come up with a product faster and better that fits with what the client wants right now, not what they wanted weeks or months ago when you started the kind of waterfall, traditional, sequential process.

I think that what’s happening in the Agile world is that a lot of people, mostly guys, are drawn to work that they often like doing alone, but they’re discovering satisfaction of joining with others in a team to get something done.

They are, as a result, some of the dynamics within that team to get it done. It often is a real struggle, as some of them told me, “We know these teams are really good idea, but God, it’s hard to do that stuff. But, it’s better than the sequential that we were involved in before.” That’s a very long answer.

Joe:  There’s a lot of truth to that. Because, I mean, we’ve come from a point where we had everybody in their own little individual closet looking at a computer screen writing code, and now we put them in this open environment with five, six people at a table and we do pair programming. That’s a pretty big cultural shift for somebody.

Geoff:  Ooh. Yeah, I think it is. I think it’s admirable when people are stepping in to a. But a really nice thing about that shift that you know more about, and you’ve been in that world, while I just visited. A really nice thing about that shift is people aren’t shifting because of the touchy?feely aspects of it. They’re shifting because of the results, because of the creativity that’s involved the alternatives that are involved, the ideas that are brought together, the satisfaction of the client, the satisfaction of the team.

So it’s not like you got a bunch of social workers who might be more, by background and style, more amenable to a group, working in a group setting. No, these are people that are less amenable to that, but are discovering what it can deliver for them.

Joe:  What about groups that come together intermittently and then break apart and go back to their regular jobs? Can that group itself be extraordinary?

Geoff:  My sense of the people from the 60 groups that we talked with is most of them were groups like you just described. We had groups that continued for years, some groups that met quarterly for years.

We had other groups that joined, for example; I’m thinking of a group that came together around the research and creation of, and putting in place new IT system, new hardware system for a company. They were together for some months and had quite an extraordinary experience focused on that particular project before them.

We had other groups that were together for weeks. Our ideas applied whether it’s a short?term group or a long?term group. Let me give you an example.

All those people that are listening right now and me and you, we’re going to be within the next few days or minutes, we’re going to be going off to a meeting with some group, some small group, probably a group with a task before. It’s probably at work and may be out in the community. When we come to that meeting, we have needs that we are trying to meet.

Kathleen and I identified with those needs, at least to our satisfaction; we’re not saying we’re entirely right, we’re saying we’re very useful. We identified those needs.

We believe that whether this is a long?term project or a short?term project that when you, Joe, go to a meeting, you are interested in being accepted by the people that are with you at the meeting. You’re interested in growing in some way. You’re interested in determining whether this group is a group that could be together for a while needs to join itself, needs to bond in some way.

You’re interested in what the group’s purpose, task is. You want to know what difference this group will make in the larger world that it serves. You and the group want a sense of the reality of the world that surrounds you.

Put in really those six needs that Kathleen and I identified are represented in those few statements that I just made there. That’s your needs for acceptance potential; a group needs to bond and have a purpose, a group’s need to understand the world around them and impact the world around them.

Those are present whatever group it is, whether it’s long?term, short?term, whether it’s a basketball team or an IT design team. So, yeah, all that stuff is going on. And you can pay attention to it in the next meeting you go to if you choose.

Joe:  Here I am. I’ve been picked to form this group. I want to have an extraordinary group. I want to have a great group. What do I look for in its members? How do I make a selection to give me half a chance?

Geoff:  Well one is, I’d suggest to you, that you learn before you go out and talk to people about what you want, is one is you learn about what extraordinary groups do but do not hold that out from the beginning as what you’re trying to create. Instead, be guided by it.

In a similar way, a parallel way would be, if you’re a golfer, you might get a DVD of some expert golfer that shows you how to play golf even better than you do right now. That professional golfer is not saying, and you are not saying, “Boy, I do these things, I’m going to be an extraordinary golfer like he, or she is.” No, you’re saying, “I can learn from a really great golfer.”

Similar way here with our book and our study, you can learn from extraordinary groups without saying from the beginning that you’re going to be one. Most of the groups that we talked to are really happy to be extraordinary, but they didn’t say in the beginning, “We’re going to be a really fantastic group.” OK, so that’s the first answer to your question.

A second thing is, I’d say as you are, if you have the privilege of picking people to join a group. Often we don’t, we get assigned, but if you have the privilege of picking people to join a group, then ask them about group experiences that they’ve had before.

Ask them to describe a really great group experience that they’d like to repeat if they were to join this group. Ask them what motivates them in their work. Ask them why they do what they do. Ask them how the work that they’re doing helps them in their lives.

Most of the things that make individuals really great performers in really great groups go beyond the workplace itself. They go to this individual’s life. What he or she is getting out of their lives, wants from their lives, and how this group serves it.

So they see this group, this new work group, your work group, the one they could join, they see that group as having the potential to serve them in their lives. Not just serve the company and in some cases company be damned. It’s what they can get out of this that helps them realize their life purposes.

Joe:  Is there such a thing as measurements that take place within a group. I mean, should I be measuring my progress in a group as far as if I’m moving ahead with these things that I point to that makes it an extraordinary group?

Geoff:  Yes. That’s something you definitely can do, and it’s useful.

Even, of course, the big measurements, one big measurement is around tangible results. The reason that groups were often formed is because some result is wanted. That’s that measure, and there are the measures along the way that move you toward that.

In the continuous improvement Sic Sigma World, quality world and all that, you’re very familiar, more than I with a lot of the importance of measurement.

The importance of measurement is, even on things that are more intangible and harder to measure, is when you attempt to measure something, you pay more attention to what you’re doing, even if it’s difficult to measure.

Let’s say, what would be a kind of corny thing that’s important? Ah, team spirit. That might be a really difficult kind of thing to measure. But you could get together with the team and you could say, “What would be, if we really had a spirit, like we’ve had in some other, each of us individually had, teams that we’ve been part of in the past, what would be indicators that this team had really high spirit? What would we see going on? What could we videotape if we wanted to that would be indicators of spirit?”

So you get even on the softer edges, the softer dimensions of this, you can come up with measurements that are agreed to by the team that are useful and help the team get closer to their intention.

Joe:  You could actually say every time a team gets together and look at some indicators or patterns and see when you had a good meeting or bad meeting and try to distinguish what went on.

Geoff:  Yes, you can. An important thing for groups and individuals listening is not so much that you do that every time but that occasionally, how often do you stop to assess how we’re doing together?

Kathleen and I would offer some ways of assessing that. In the book, one of the things that we focused on, based on all the interviewing that we did, is, “What is it that you’d see going on in groups that would be indicators that this is indicators of more extraordinary rather than more ordinary behavior?”

We identified eight things that many of which you can readily bring down to observable performance.

One indicator and you can measure this within a team on a five?point scale or a raise of hands or a discussion, one indicator is a compelling purpose.

Does this team have a purpose that is embraced by every single member of the team? Not just the leader of the team, but every person on the team embraces the purpose, they find it really important and they can tell you what that purpose is, they don’t have to turn to the designated leader to find out.

A second thing is leadership shared within this team? Do we find leadership moving around within the team rather than being concentrated in one purpose? Most extraordinary groups have leadership shared. Anybody in the team can take the initiative and take the lead at this moment, even teams that have a designated leader.

A third point would be just enough structure. Most of these smaller, extraordinary groups do not have a highly structured approach. In fact if you look in on them, they look kind of messy. They’re more organic, and you might not know what in the hell is going on as a visitor.

They know what’s going on, but you don’t. So they have enough structure to get the job done at the moment, and they’re not overly structured.

Fourth point is full engagement. How engaged are the team members? Do you see everybody in the team engaged? Is energy high? Is there significant laughter? Is there fun? Are people engaged in this, working at this willingly during hours and even after hours?

A fifth point is embracing differences, a really interesting point. What happens when there’s a difference of opinion in this team? And in extraordinary groups, more often, they embrace the difference. They tease out the polar differences between individuals because they know that between those polar differences are creative alternatives that they wouldn’t find if they suppressed if they suppressed disagreement.

A sixth point is these teams have unexpected learnings. They learn about how to be a really great team. They learn about how to lead a team. They learn skills in the workplace that are useful at home and out in the community, interpersonal team kinds of, group kinds of skills.

A seventh point is do these people have strong relationships? Are the relationships being strengthened by the work that they do together? Are some friendships even resulting from the work that they do?

The eighth and last point is great results. I’ve alluded to this earlier great tangible result. They have results that please their sponsors outside of this team. They get great results for the corporation or the large business that they’re part of.

They have great intangible results too in terms of the dynamics within the team. The intangible results are the more precious results to the team members. They’re used to the tangible results. They’re used to performing in that realm. What surprises them are the intangible things that they value about what went on within this team.

So there are eight performance indicators that teams can use; they can judge themselves. How are we doing on these things? They can look at themselves regularly in terms of how they perform. There are few extraordinary groups, few extraordinary groups that don’t stop to look at how they work together.

Joe:  You’re saying that they are actually evaluated and maybe making adjustments so that they can have better performance.

Geoff:  They are. They are. Now they are not necessarily evaluating the eight points that we made. Do they stop to look at how they’re doing? Do they make adjustments in how they perform based on their assessment of how they’re working together? Extraordinary groups emphatically do that. Ordinary groups often do not.

Joe:  Well that brings me to a question. How can I tell when I’m headed down the path? How can I tell when I’m going south? This group is really not gelling; I need to do something. Sure, I’m going to probably have a feeling that’s happening, but are there any tips you can give me that I can say that boy, I need to do something here, I need to make a change?

Geoff:  Yeah, if you have that feeling, and it’s a group of any size, say typically five to nine people, and you’re a member of the group, not necessarily the leader at all, first of all I’d suggest you find somebody else in the group that you have a decent relationship with, and you share your feeling about that. Like, “I don’t know, maybe…” or, maybe first of all you ask them what are their feelings about how this group is doing. Get your feelings validated by someone else that’s in the group.

At some upcoming group meeting say, “I think at some point we ought to stop and take a look at how we’re doing together, we’ve been working together here for three months, and we’ve been meeting regularly. I think that we ought to devote some time to look into how we’re working together and what’s working and what could work even better than it is right now.”

Get people’s support of that. It may be that you do it right then and there, or it may be that you do it in some future meeting. But you get the group support for looking at how we work together so we can be even more effective.

This is very consistent with the continuous improvement quality, etc. stuff. Coincidentally, something that Kathleen and I along with another consultant are working on right now is, we’ve been asked to develop an extraordinary team’s inventory.

We’re in the middle of validating that right now. 600 people and over 60 new teams on top of the 60 we talked to before have participated in filling out the inventory we’re validating. It’s online; it’s going to be at probably this fall, I think it will be ready.

We’ve had a lot of people participate in it, and what are they doing? They’re doing just what you’re asking about.

They’re taking a timeout; each team member goes online, takes 15 minutes or so to fill out some kind of assessment of the team and the assessment is actually against the eight points that I was reviewing a minute ago.

Then those results are sent back to the individual team member, and then the overall team results are presented so the team can look at how they scored all together. They can look at the individual scores without the individuals being identified. That’s a more formal approach to it.

But you don’t need to go through all of that in order to stop and take a look at how your team is doing. You don’t need to use our eight performance indicators, though they’re very good, you can use your own performance indicators.

You can say to each other, what should this team be doing well? And now let’s assess ourselves on how we’re doing on those things from nine, really great to one, really poorly. So, yeah, a team can do that if they want to.

Joe:  I think the eight points are excellent; it reminds me a lot of the five dysfunctions of

Geoff:  Yeah. Lencioni’s stuff, yeah.

Joe:  Yes, Lencioni’s stuff, it reminds me of that a little bit. Great way to sit there and take a look at it, it really makes you sit back, and it’s something that, like you said with the rating system, you can really see if you’re improving as a team or if you’re not.

Geoff:  Those scores get put out there, and it’s not necessary to identify who said what. And you can see, “Gee I thought this team was about a four?and?a?half, and somebody here thinks it’s a two. And somebody else thinks it’s a three. What in the hell is going on there?”

So that opens the discussion, and can lead toward, “OK, we’re in agreement that we’re of mixed minds here, mixed sympathies. So that suggests that we try to do some things differently. What do we want to do differently?”

Joe:  Geoff, on your website, you have some of these things available for people to download and take a look at, don’t you?

Geoff:  Yes, we do. You’ll find some tools there. Like the last thing about the team assessing itself, there’s a simple tool in there where people can do that. There’s other tools related to the six needs, tools related to the four feelings.

All that is free stuff at In the book, there’s a lot of elaborations on the specifics about how to do some of this stuff. How to lead a team, how to participate in a team in a way that honors the eight indicators, the six needs, the four feelings. So, there’s even more elaboration there than there is at the website.

Joe:  Is there anything you would like to add that maybe I haven’t asked you?

Geoff:  One of the things that were validated for me in writing the book is that I believe more strongly than ever that the basic unit of work among human beings is not individuals. It’s not an organization, hierarchical organization. It is small groups. Groups of two to probably ten, twelve people. That’s how we get things done.

We are deeply informed to group with other people. This is not just a matter of convenience; this is a matter of need. We need to be with others. We’ve survived as a species because of groups. We did not survive individually. We joined together in order to survive. So, we’re genetically informed to group with other people. We need to do that.

That is something that came across as really strong to me as I was working on this book. We’ve not served that basic work unit of the group well in large organizations. We struggle to do that. We’re organized too much around the individual, not enough around groups.

Joe:  I think I’ll end it on that, and I would like to thank you very much. What’s the best way for someone to get a hold of you?

Geoff:  The website, and email, works really well. So that’s a good way to reach me. Or

Joe:  Thank you very much Geoff, I do appreciate it. This podcast will be available on the Business901 website and also the Business901 iTunes Store.

Lean Sales and Marketing: Lean Engagement Team

Special Marketing with Lean Book and Program offers on Facebook