team

Engineering Your Team OS

This is designed to work as a standalone workshop or as a companion to the Team Self-Assessment tool. Using reflections and insights on your working process, your team will 'update' its operating system by making deliberate choices about how to work together. The goal is gradual development, not a radical shift. You will design an ideal-state for your team and slowly work towards that.

Part of "Leading Teams in the Digital Age"

A 6-week online course that will help you and your team work better together, be more effective and reach your goals. Get the modern toolbelt for culture, collaboration and leadership in times of change and complexity.

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  1. Step 1:

    Your team is a system. It is complex with multiple and interlocking parts. It has evolved over days, weeks, months, or years to become the thing it is today. Most likely that has been an unconscious evolution. This tool supports you to gradually redesign that system.

    We are borrowing the term Operating System (OS) from the software industry, to denote a complex system that supports people to work (programmes to run) and is improved over time through constant, small iterations.

    The thing about an "Operating System" is that you’re never ever supposed to see it. And the only mission in life of an Operating System is to help those programs run.  - Linus Torvalds, creator of Linux (open source operating system)

    --

    Bring your team together and put up your statements map from the Team Self-Assessment workshop.

    Give the team some time to review the statements. The team should spend enough time reviewing to feel back in the "mindset" of the Self-Assessment workshop.

    If you've not done that workshop then take 15 minutes to reflect as individuals on these categories:

    • Team Relations & Environment
    • Information & Decision-Making
    • Responsibility & Accountability
    • Learning & Individual Purpose
    • Collective Purpose
    • Profit & Productivity
  2. Step 2:

    Take the categories one-by-one and ask the group:

    In an ideal team, equipped for a networked world, with the purpose and culture that we have defined, how might we do this differently?

    Take a structured round in the group, asking everyone to contribute. You're looking for positive and aspirational statements that answer the question. Only one person can speak at once.

    Here you are aiming for consent not consensus. You don’t all need to agree on the new statements, you just need to ensure that nobody strongly disagrees with them.

    Explain to the group that when it's their turn on the round they can either build on the someone else's statement or strongly disagree with it. And if they disagree they must provide an alternative solution.

    Continue with structured rounds until you have a decision about the first statement for the first category.

  3. Step 3:

    Post up the first statement on the wall, or add to/amend a digital document.

    Create as many positive and aspirational statements as you can in the time you have. It's important to say this is hard collective work, and if you’re doing it properly it will take time and be mentally tiring.

    15 minutes before your session ends choose one statement that you will focus on as a team over the next week. Each team member must verbally commit to focusing on changing that element of the team's behaviour.

    At your next regular meeting (or a scheduled one if you don’t have regular meetings) discuss only this statement:

    How did you do? Did it work? Does the approach need to be revised?

    Do this over and over again, with each new statement. It should be a continual iterative process. Think how regularly you update apps on your phone. Almost every day there is a new version of Facebook, WhatsApp, or Google Maps to download, with incremental improvements to the OS.

    That is the mindset you need to have.