Building Effective Teams – 8 Tips To Glue Teams Together!

Building Effective Teams – 8 Tips To Glue Teams Together!

Welcome back to the latest Time-to-Think article. Today, it’s Time-to-Think about how to build effective teams. In today’s complex and highly dynamic business world, building effective teams is more challenging than ever. Technology, busyness and complexity have become barriers to building effective teams. To overcome these barriers, we need to consciously and deliberately work to glue teams together.

I’ve had the pleasure of working with hundreds of teams over the last ten years or so. Based on those sessions, here are my 8 tips to help glue teams together:

  1. Have A Vision Of Success:    This tip may seem pretty obvious, but many teams don’t take the time to paint a clear vision of success for their team. This shared vision acts as a source of inspiration for the team. The vision helps provide the motivation to get out of bed in the morning, and come to work to perform at your best to help the team to realise the vision. The vision also acts as a guide for daily team actions through the team ensuring that actions are aligned with the shared team vision.
  2. Keep Teams Small:   A common trend that I observe in today’s business word is the tendency to build big teams. Building bigger teams is not always the answer to increasing effectiveness. Communication becomes more difficult when team size increases. I really like Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos’s two pizza team rule. This rules states that teams shouldn’t be larger than what two pizzas can feed. As group size grows, you simply can’t have as meaningful conversations, which is why people start breaking off into smaller clusters to chat. For Bezos, small teams make it easier to communicate more effectively which encourages momentum, high autonomy and innovation.
  3. Build Positive Relationships: Research conducted by Marcial Losada has shown that high performing teams have five positive interactions for every one negative interaction (5:1 positive interactions: negative interactions). An example of a positive interaction – “That’s a great idea!”. An example of a negative interaction – “I don’t agree with you!” Medium-performing teams averaged 1.9:1 positive interactions: negative interactions. The average ratio for the low-performing teams is 0.36 to 1 – that is almost three negative interactions for every positive one. The 5:1 ratio also suggests that some negative interaction is an essential part of the mix. Why is that? First, because of its ability to grab someone’s attention. Think of it as a “whack-on-the-side-of-the-head.” Secondly negative interactions guard against complacency and group-think. How can you increase the positive interaction:negative interaction ratio in your team?
  4. Give And Receive The GIFT Of Feedback:   It is important not to let frustration levels build up in teams. A great way to ensure that everything gets out in the open is by having frequent feedback loops built into team operations. Personally, I like the GIFT feedback model, where feedback is given and received as follows: G = Good, I = Intended, F = Feedback, provided in a Trusting environment.
  5. Take Time To Think Creatively:   In the modern complex business world, we wake-up every morning with problems that did not exist yesterday. We need to take time to think creatively as teams if we are to survive and thrive in this environment. Check out my recent article for more on creative thinking – “Top Tips To Inject Creative Thinking Into Your Workday”
  6. Have Fun:Research in the positive psychology arena shows that having fun at work opens us up to collaboration and helps make us more creative. Companies such as Google use Fun as a business strategy, helping them to create a collaborative, innovative and engaging work environment. When was the last time your team had fun?! 🙂
  7. Play Off Each-other’s Strengths:   High performing, effective teams consist of people that are team players, where the collective team goals and team status is more important than individual goals and achievements. These teams play to the strengths of their team members. They also mitigate their weaknesses by 1. Building capability in team members via training, coaching and mentoring 2. Collaborating with other team members that have complimentary skills and experiences.
  8. Be Accountable – Own The Result:   Effective teams push through the interpersonal discomfort to hold each other accountable on results. At the end of the day, the job of a team is to deliver results. Therefore, we must hold each other accountable on results if we are to be successful.

Coach’s Corner: What key points have you taken away from this article? What did you learn? What key actions will you take as a result? Who will hold you accountable on your actions?

I would love to hear some of your top tips also! Please feel free to post your thoughts as comments on this article. Please tune in next time for more Time-To-Think discussions. Thank you.


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10 Tips To Inject Creative Thinking Into Your Workday

10 Tips To Inject Creative Thinking Into Your Workday

“Creative thinking is not a talent, it is a skill that can be learned. It empowers people by adding strength to their natural abilities which improves teamwork, productivity and, where appropriate, profits.” Dr. Edward DeBono 

Welcome back to the latest Time-to-Think article. Today, it’s Time-to-Think about how to inject creative thinking into your workday. This will allow you to develop more innovative solutions to your problems and opportunities.

In today’s complex and highly dynamic business world, many people are rushing from meeting to meeting, chasing task after task, trying to fit as much as possible into their diaries. We are working harder-and-harder. But, we are not taking time-to-think creatively about better ways of doing things, and developing more innovative solutions. In addition to this, our education system and organisations are generally set-up to educate and operate in logical and process driven (left-brain) ways. We don’t generally put as much focus on educating and operating in more creative, right-brain ways. As a result, we have a problem. We are not working in ways that are as smart and effective as they could be. This is hurting us from a business perspective. We need to learn how to inject creative thinking into our workday, if we are to be more effective and innovative in our work.

Many of us struggle with how to think creatively. Here are 10 tips to help you inject creative thinking into your workday:

  1. Take Time-To-Think Creatively: This tip may seem pretty obvious, but many of us don’t put time aside to think creatively. Busyness is the enemy of creative thinking! Taking time out to be more creative – individually and collectively – can be very valuable.
  2. FUEL Ideas : Instead of judging and criticising the ideas of other colleagues, try building and fuelling them instead!

F = Forget Judging for now – practice the two-minute pause

U = Seek to understand the idea –“Tell me more…”

E = Explore the idea –“What are the positives in this idea….?”

L = Listen and then add to the idea “Say…Yes, and…”

  1. Make Mistakes!: Creativity involves allowing yourself to make mistakes. Unless you learn to experiment and subsequently try and fail, you will never learn to think creatively. Creativity follows a trial and error method. Make “Fail, Learn, Adapt” your creativity mantra!
  2. Seek-Out Diverse Opinions: Seek out people with diverse opinions and ask them for ideas to help solve your problem/capitalise on your opportunity. For this to work, you will need to stay open and look for the “gold” in their perspectives.
  3. Go For A Walk: Instead of sitting at your desk thinking harder about solutions to your problems – go for a walk. A walk is a great way to boost creativity. The endorphins released through exercise generate a feel-good sensation in the body and help the brain in idea generation. Get yourself away from your desk, and walk your way to new solutions!
  4. Think About Your Customer: Many times we come up with ideas that we like, but they do not meet the needs of our internal and external customers. This often leads to the development of inventions that don’t have any commercial benefit. We must meet the needs of our customer if we are to develop true innovations that have business impact. The Empathy Mapping tool is a very useful tool to help “walk-in-the-shoes” of your customer. More here:
  5. Use Creativity Tools:Use creativity tools to help you and your team to think in non-linear, creative ways. There are lots of tools available nowadays in the design thinking arena – choose one and give it a try! Some examples can be found here:
  6. Let Go of Uncreative Habits: Make a list of some of your personal habits that get in the way of your ability to think creatively. Choose one of these habits and replace it with a habit that will foster creativity.
  7. Visualise Your Ideas: Use tools to visualise your ideas. For example….
  • Draw a picture. Even if you think you can’t draw, you can at least doodle and no one ever has to see what you put to paper. Abstract problems – such as your relationship with someone or a heavy workload – benefit most from turning them into sketches.
  • Make a collage. Grab some magazines and look for photos and ads. Cut-out any that relate to your problem in any way and glue them to a large piece of poster board. Keep this art near your desk where you can ponder it. You may get a new perspective on your problem.
  • Build something. Legos, Tinkertoys, modeling clay and Play-Doh are all good materials you can use to build/prototype your idea.
  1. Implement Your Creative Ideas. No innovation happens without implementation! Nothing builds confidence like the successful implementation of creative ideas! So, don’t just think about it – do it! Or as Elvis puts it…..”A little less conversation, a little more action!

I would love to hear some of your tips also – feel free to share them on the post! Please tune in next time for more Time-To-Think discussions! Thank you.


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Shift Performance! Work, Rest & Play

Shift Performance! Work, Rest & Play

Welcome back to the “Time-To-Think” series of articles! Thank you for taking some time away from the hamster-wheel of the modern business world to learn. In JFK’s words “Leadership and learning are indispensible to each other.”

The most recent article was called “Business is like Underwear. Change is Good!” You can read that article here if you missed it:

Today’s article is called:

Shift Performance – Work, Rest and Play! 


“Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs are people who come alive.” Howard Thurman

We all deserve to engage in work that gives us a sense of enjoyment, meaning and satisfaction. Work is not just about making a living. Making a living is important. However, work is also a mechanism to grow, learn, contribute, build positive relationships, accomplish, and to become our best selves. If you don’t like your work, you owe it to yourself to assess your short-, medium- and long-term career options. I would encourage you to work at something that you are passionate about. Working in a job you do not like, drains your energy. Working in a job you enjoy, gives you energy. Quite simply put – passion fuels peak performance. What are you passionate about? What is your next career move?


“There is virtue in work and there is virtue in rest. Use both and overlook neither.” Alan Cohen

After periods of meaningful action, be sure to refuel. Wellbeing is the energy of peak performance. We cannot perform at our best if we are tired. The temptation is to keep working hard when we are tired. However, the science tells us that working harder is not the answer. In addition, research shows that sustained activity without periods of re-fueling can lead to burnout.  Burnout is not an easy place to come back from. I would encourage you not to go there in the first place! In order to maintain your best self, flourish and perform at your best, you need a wellbeing strategy. A wellbeing strategy involves engaging in activities that give you energy. Things that you get joy from. Your wellbeing strategy should include work activities and non-work activities e.g. hobbies. Quite simply put – wellbeing fuels peak performance. What does your wellbeing strategy look like?


“Our ability to play throughout life is the single most important factor in determining our success and happiness.” Dr. Stuart Brown, National Institute of Play

The science of play illustrates that playfulness helps put us in the alpha brain -state. When we are in this brain-state, we are “in-the-zone” of peak performance, enhanced creativity, increased collaboration, and super-learning. We are more engaged and more open. The more evolved companies use Play as a business strategy. For example Google uses play to inspire peak performance. That’s why they have pool tables, free Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, etc. Quite simply put – play fuels peak performance. How will you use play to inspire peak performance in yourself and others?

Coach’s Corner

What key points have you taken away from this article? What did you learn? What will you change as a result? How will you train your mind for peak performance? Who will hold you accountable on your action plan?

Taking Time-To-Think helps move us from victims of busyness to leaders of change. Please tune in next time for more Time-To-Think discussions! Thank you.


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Business is Like Underwear – Change is Good!

Business is Like Underwear – Change is Good!

Now that I have your attention, I’d like to welcome you to the first article in the Time-to Think series! We are all aware that the modern business world is like a roller coaster ride – full of ups-and-downs, the adrenaline is pumping through our veins, and we are all doing our best to hang on! In this environment, Time-To-Think is one of the most precious resources available to us. If we are not taking Time-To-Think then we are in danger of operating in “headless-chicken” mode. In “headless-chicken” mode we do not take Time-to-Think about creating impactful ideas, and we do not take Time-to-Think about our action plans to ensure that our actions are considered and intelligent.

As a business community we need to learn that fast is not always best! Or, as the proverb puts it: “The early-bird catches the worm, but the second mouse get’s the cheese!” It’s not always best to be fastest to the prize – just ask the mouse that gets caught in the trap while chasing the cheese! We’ve got a world full of people running around and doing in the name of expediency, but this headless-chicken-like activity is tripping us up in the long run. I believe that taking Time-To-Think can help us do it better, smarter and, ultimately, faster the first time. 


Today, it’s Time-to-Think about Change!

Please read this article with a curious, open mind. As you read the article – ask yourself two questions….

  1. What can I learn? 
  2. How can I apply the learning’s back in my world?


Time-to-Think about Change

In the modern-day roller-coaster business environment, learning how to lead and manage change is a key skill for today’s business leaders. Before we discuss the top tips for leading change, let’s first take a look at what change is, and why as humans we generally resist change. These are really important things to understand in the world where change is the new norm.

What is Change? 

Change is a process that involves moving from a current state to a future state. This is usually accompanied with a period of transition and human resistance to the change.

Why do we generally resist Change? 

Although, we all react to change in slightly different ways, there are some general principles that apply. There are biological reasons and psychological reasons for resisting change on a human level.

Biological Reasons 

When we experience a challenging event (real or perceived) e.g. change, the alarm in our brains called the Amygdala “goes-off”, and sends the body into fight-or-flight mode. The stress hormones (e.g. Cortisol and Adrenaline) increase, our hearts start beating faster, and we are ready to “fight”, or run-away! This process can lead to mental and physical discomfort, which often manifests in survival-oriented behaviours during periods of change e.g. self-absorption, resistance, greed, anger, control etc.


Psychological Reasons 

As we know from Maslow’s hierarchy-of-needs, safety or certainty is a fundamental human need. Change challenges our basic psychological need for certainty. Given the fact that we are programmed to avoid pain and move towards pleasure, we tend to avoid change when it is perceived as painful.


The SARAH Model – How we generally react to change 

Based on our biology and psychology, we generally react to change in a predictable way that can be summarised in the memorable SARAH acronym: S = Shock, A = Anger, R= Resistance or Rejection, A = Acceptance, H = Hope. The process of moving through the change curve, from Shock to Hope is a very individual journey for each person – mood and performance will dip during this process, returning to it’s original state over-time. Expect this dip, and plan for it. It will happen.

Now that we understand what is going on at a human level during change, this can help us lead organisations and people through change in a more empathetic fashion.


Top Tips for Leading Change

Be Emotionally Intelligent – authentically support people through the change curve. We are all human, and this change response is in us all, including you!

Empower/Coach people to find their own solutions to the challenges that arise during the change journey. 

Hold the vision and passion for the desired future state that you are moving towards.

Communicate in ways that are logical, inspirational, human and structured.

Look after the wellbeing of all on the change journey, while remaining focused on delivering on the business objectives.

Stay calm and patient – avoid moving into ‘headless-chicken” mode. Instead make intelligent decisions that are congruent with the change vision.

Use a change management process (e.g Kotter Model) to frame the change journey. Change management works because it brings the certainty of process to the uncertainty of change. Change management increases the probability of success for the change, helps manage the human resistance to change, and builds change capability in the organisation. Please see here for more info:

What key points have you taken away from this article? What did you learn? What will you change as a result? Taking Time-To-Think helps move us from victims of busyness to leaders of change. Please tune in next time for more Time-To-Think discussions. Thank you.


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Wake-up: The world needs your Leadership!

When I woke up this morning, it occurred to me that never has leadership been more important than now: the business and political landscapes have never been more volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous. Every time you turn on the news there is more-and-more affirmation of this uncertainty. While uncertainty can make some of us act like a rabbit in the headlights, now is the time to act and ensure that your organisation is fully equipped and ready for the future. With the complexity of the business and political landscape, it is easy to forget the importance of building leadership skills. Now is the time to develop leaders to ensure that your organization can survive and thrive in these times of massive uncertainty.

I also realised this morning that I have been fortunate enough to work with some good leaders over-the-years. I have summarized their key attributes in the Leadership VISION model below:

Leadership VISION Model

V: Good leaders create a vivid VISION of a desired future state that is congruent with their VALUES. This to me seems to be the primary role of a leader. To imagine a future state that does not yet exist. Just like Martin Luther King, good leaders have a dream. Their passion for their vision is contagious, as their vision is aligned with their personal values and their purpose.

I: Good leaders INSPIRE their teams to realise the vision. They do this by understanding the intrinsic motivations of their teams and aligning roles-and- responsibilities with these personal internal motivations. This alignment inspires peak performance and flow in their teams. Their teams are energized, congruent, enthusiastic, and on-purpose. People will always go the extra-mile when they enjoy their work.

S: Good leaders SERVE and SUPPORT their teams. They ask their teams “How can I serve and support you, so that you can perform at your best?” They truly connect and emotionally bond with their teams. Good leaders take responsibility when their teams fail, and graciously fade into the background when the awards are being given out. Good leaders also ensure that the wellbeing of their teams is of primary importance.

I: Good leaders INQUIRE – they are good coaches. Rather than problem solving for their teams, good leaders take a coaching role. They empower their teams to find their own solutions. By doing this, they are creating more leaders. Creating more leaders (not followers!) is central to being a good leader.

O: Good leaders OPERATE in a whole-brain manner. Good leaders routinely operate in a whole-brain manner, using the combined power of their left and right brain. They are logical, objective, creative, calculated-risk-takers, passionate, human, structured and doers. They walk their talk, and lead by example, knowing what skills are appropriate for the task-at-hand.

N: Good leaders are NOW-FOCUSED. Even though they may have a lofty future vision, good leaders know that the only day that they can take action and make things happen is today. They are keenly aware that the only way to realise their vision is by showing-up every day, rolling-up their sleeves, and getting stuff done. Good leaders are productive, rather than busy. They realise that busyness has become a “badge-of-honour” in modern organisational life, and they consciously remove themselves from this hamster wheel. Good leaders make mindful, conscious decisions. They realise that their decisions matter and that their decisions have consequences. They know that accuracy trumps speed when it comes to decision-making. They also take responsibility for their decisions.

What has this article awoken in you? Is the sleeping leadership-giant inside of you and your organisation ready to step-up and serve the world? I hope so. The world needs your leadership. Now!

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A key part of making the shift to a more agile organisation is learning how to become more innovative.   Before we learn more about the Making Shift Happen approach to innovation, let’s first define what innovation is and why it’s important.

What is innovation?

The definition of innovation is often overcomplicated, so at Making Shift Happen we have come up with a simple definition of innovation:

Innovation is a process for creating and implementing valuable ideas that positively impact any area of your organisation.

People often tell us that they don’t need to be innovative in their work. We gasp with disbelief when these words are uttered! All roles require ideas in some form or another, therefore we can all benefit from learning how to become more innovative. It doesn’t matter if the ideas are big or small, they all matter in a rapidly changing world! 

Why is it important?

There are many, many articles, papers and books written that show the benefits of innovative organisations. These benefits include:

  • Increased agility – valuable ideas fuel agility
  • Increased ability to solve problems creatively, identify new opportunities and find smarter ways of doing business
  • Improved collaboration internally and externally
  • Higher employee engagement levels
  • A more empowered workforce
  • Identification of new markets, new customers and new products
  • Happy creative workers and happy customers

Our Approach To Innovation

The MAKING SHIFT HAPPEN innovation formula:

Innovation = Know x Connect X Grow X Action 

Know – This phase of the innovation process uses our Making Shift Happen tools to clearly get to know/define your problem or opportunity.

Connect – This phase of the innovation process involves using our Making Shift Happen tools to connect with key stakeholders and/or customers to deeply understand the unmet need.

Grow – This phase of the innovation process uses our Making Shift Happen tools to spark and grow valuable ideas

Action  – This phase of the innovation process uses our Making Shift Happen tools to decide what ideas to covert to projects and take action on.

Innovation has a best friend!

Who is innovation’s best friend? Stop, pause and think about the answer for a minute.

Yes, you probably guessed that it’s creativity!

It is not enough to mechanically use our tools and work step-by-step through our innovation formula. You also need to behave in a more creative way when you are working through our innovation process. Behaving creatively will help spark new ideas and insights as you work through the innovation formula. Innovation and creativity work in tandem. The innovation formula gives us a process for “doing” innovation and creativity describes how we need to behave as we work through the process. 

Click here to find out more about our innovation offerings.