Building on What is Working

As companies are reorganizing and stretching the capabilities of their people, team building is in high demand.  I recently had the opportunity to work with a group of people in the midst of drastic change.  Their team leader and many of his direct reports had been let go abruptly, the new leader had been in her role for less than a week, and the company was undergoing massive restructuring.  They were trying to change the tires on the car while speeding down the highway at 90 miles an hour.

In my preliminary interviews with each of the team members, they shared their objectives for the team building session, potential challenges, and what they were willing to do to make it successful.  Not surprisingly, the list of challenges was long, but one of their key objectives was to get past the obstacles and focus on moving forward.

After acknowledging all the challenges, the team made a list of what they are already doing well and created statements describing the ideal future state such as, “people want to work on our team.”  They prioritized each statement according to the degree of difficulty and value.  The highest value, least difficult things to achieve were assigned top priority.

From there, the team moved into action steps, accountability and metrics for each aspect of their ideal future state.  They left the meeting feeling energized by what is already working and creating a plan to build on that.

This approach to change management, called Appreciative Inquiry, is a powerful alternative to the traditional method of focusing on problems and trying to find solutions.  For a high level overview, see The Thin Book of Appreciative Inquiry, by Sue Annis Hammond.

If your team is ready to try something new, contact me at