Intelligent conversations create meaning and understanding for the people that take part. Conversations are an essential aspect of learning - with thoughts and ideas challenged, opinions exchanged and wisdom created. For teams, this means examining the context within which they work, their stakeholders' success criteria and expectations and the ways in which the team organises thinking, skills, processes and working methods to deliver on what they have promised.
The most useful intelligent conversations for teams have two broad dimensions. The outside and inside worlds. The outside world is where stakeholders' expectations, opinions and decisions determine whether or not the team and its products and services are valued. This value equation - is the investment of time and money worth the effort? - establishes whether the team survives or not. The three areas for consideration and conversation in the team are:-
Success Criteria - What are stakeholders looking for when they purchase the product or service or make the investment in the team?
Stakeholder Management - How does the team keep people informed, engaged and connected to the team and its work?
Delivering on Promises - What is the team's reputation and track record for meeting deadlines, budgets and fulfilling what their product promises?
These outside world dimensions describe the business strategy; how the team creates value, viability or a return on the investment. The inside world is, in reality, of secondary importance. How the team works together is only relevant to delivering the business strategy. At the same time, these dimensions are like building fitness or stamina. Without them it is much more difficult to deliver the outputs required - and sooner or later the lack of fitness for purpose will show.
So to build resilience, maintain team health and become ready to deliver the business strategy the intelligent conversations for teams are about:-
Organisation and Structure - The way the team is arranged to be able to deliver the products or services and provide a reliable process for creating the value stakeholders want. Chaotic working can occasionally yield results but not in a reliable, sustainable way.
Working for Each Other - How team members work processes, routines and attitudes or mind-sets are focussed on supporting each other. In high performing team there is a sense of commitment team members feel toward each other and the way their work flows makes it an easy place to be around.
Continuous Learning - Unless the team is willing to keep track of what is happening in the marketplace and the world at large and make changes in the way it works and the products and services it delivers there will come a time when the work is irrelevant and the team will no longer be needed. It could be gradual or sudden - but it will come.
All commercial and business teams should know the importance of reviewing what they do and how they work. These six factors structure the review and make for intelligent conversations not unfocussed and vague team meetings, team building events and away days.