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Desert Highway
Thoughtful writing authored and shared by members of of the Thinking Collaborative community to support others on the journey.

Sustaining the Journey

The Secrets of Great Teamwork—Enabling in a Positive Way, Part 2

Authored By:

Thinking Collaborative


August 29, 2016

J. Richard Hackman (June, 2016) has researched teams for 40 years and has made a significant discovery:

What matters most to collaboration is not the personalities, attitudes, or behavioral styles of team members. Instead, what teams need to thrive are certain “enabling conditions…”

Haas and Mortensen (June, 2016), authors of The Secrets of Great Teamwork, agree with Hackman’s research and add that leaders can make great strides in collective efforts when they understand these enabling conditions and use this knowledge to influence their work.

Last week we defined the first two enabling conditions: compelling direction and strong structure. This week, we will continue our study with the next two enabling conditions: supportive context and shared mindset.

Supportive context: Elements in a supportive context are: recognition of good performance, access to data needed to accomplish the work; training to embed, maintain, and sustain skills; and material resources (funding, technology, supplies, etc.) to do the job. Frustration can be averted when teams have the means to utilize these essential pieces.

Shared mindset: Haas and Mortensen agree that the first three enabling conditions pave the way for team success, but emphasize that the fourth condition, shared mindset, is absolutely critical. Team leaders can foster a shared mindset by developing a common identity. In Adaptive Schools, we ask, “Who are we?” and “Who do we need to be to achieve this mission?” We also recognize the value inclusion activities hold when creating a sense of community and to clarifying our relationship to our group.

In this coming week, how might you determine how robust the supportive context is in your system?

In addition to inclusion activities, how might you help develop a shared mindset within your team?

Haas, M. & Mortensen, M. (June, 2016). Listening is an overlooked leadership tool. Harvard Business Review, May 2016.

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