Making a difference by embracing differences

More then the eye sees..

A pond in summer. Patches of yellow duckweed seem to be different and separated from each other. Everything in the pond is part of a delicate ecosystem, connected at a deeper level than is visible to the eye.

Sympathetic weather

A sunny day in june. Sympathetic weather shapes two day offsite in the planetarium. I am the facilitator with an international management team from Asia and Europe. Half of the team was appointed in the last six months and a newly appointed executive heads the team. The business environment is demanding and the team members are faced with a many changes and increasing demands of customers. In the intake interviews prior to the meeting the majority of the team members did not feel that there was a common ground to collaborate together. Some are head of geographically distributed local operations and others manage head office departments. A variety in jobs, working domains and business it seemed. “Why do we need an offsite since we have not much in common? Our jobs are so different.”

What is the big picture?

The offsite, which afterwards got the subtitle “ making a difference by embracing differences”, was aimed at getting the big picture and co-creating a roadmap for incremental improvement. It was the first phase in working together as a high performance team.  High Performing Teams create surprising results as a result of team flow. Five success criteria define a High Performance Team:

  • Shared direction
  • Continuous learning and improving
  • Concrete results
  • Focus on the environment
  • Generative cooperation

More (in dutch) :  succesfactoren

More (in english) : success factors

What was the outcome?

The workshop ended with the following statements of the participants:

  • This meeting helped me to get a focus on the common ground and our shared direction, it is reassuring despite our differences
  • Our common ambition is clear now and helps us to focus and align. It connects the whole together. It connects mission, action and most importantly the voice of the customer.
  • This energized me. This team will make a difference, I am proud. We will deliver and it will not be unnoticed.

How did we get there? 

Here is the story. The workshop was split up into four parts:

  • Creating the field. After the introduction we took the time to get to know each other by sharing our personal intent in our work. This inside-out exercise, focussed at the heart, created openness and flow.
  • Capturing the big picture. External input was given to the group. This outside-in work, focussing on the mind,  captured the voice of the customer, market- and business intelligence (facts and figures) and best practices in the field of product and process management. It opened up the field, creating new elements in the map of the territory.
  • Creating the ambition. The leader of the team presented his view on the current situation and on the mission and strategy. In small groups we discussed the learnings of the day, finding out how it all connects into one big picture. Mind and heart were integrated with the  “personal buy-in dialog” and with a dialog on “the name of we”.
  • Co-creating the roadmap and next steps. In the last part of the workshop it was time to integrate mind, heart and hands. Any journey into a shared direction always starts with the first steps. Pragmatic actions, here and now, aimed at reaching the first milestone in a roadmap that probably will be altered as the future emerges.

“For me it was very inspiring to work with professionals who are able to open up, to learn and to connect to each other and the big picture with their mind, heart and hands”


Personal Intention

Intention comes from the latin intendre: to reach or stretch out. Intention means:

    • The purpose, end or aim toward which thoughts are directed
    • An anticipated outcome that guides your actions
    • A determination to act in a certain way

Map of the territory

  • We all have our personal view and internal representation of reality.
  • This “map of the territory” helps us to simplify the millions of impressions we have each day.
  • At the same time our map of the territory is a filter that distorts our perception of reality.

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