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Aligning levels

The scene

Every month I gather with a random group of people to discuss a challenge they bring forward.

Yesterday's challenge is about two teams (9 people in total) having to work together following a merger of their organisations. The team lead is worried about the fact that during off-site meetings, the 9 get along very well and once back in their offices, their personal agendas prevail.

My observations

  1. The first thing that strikes me when hearing the story is the extremely rational approach. The teams made plans, next steps, vision and mission documents etc... and yet... "How can I get people motivated to actually change?" is the question.

  2. The second thing I notice is the biased and relatively limited belief system of the team lead. I hear plenty of assumptions in which the team lead gets totally stuck. Expressions including : "it is not possible, I can't, the people will not,... etc..." are clear indications of a mind set that is sabotaging itself.

  3. The third thing I sense (to my surprise) is a lack of clear expression of a common "shiny" goal for the team and the organisation


I sometimes feel like Don Quichote when I preach the importance of "emotion" to teams and their managers. "Does it really make a difference?", I dare to ask myself when I face the almost complete ignorance on this subject....

It does! To me appears fairly simple why: If and when there is no common shiny goal (top level in fig above), the people concerned (2nd level) will stick to their personal values and beliefs (3rd level) and subsequently only be motivated to learn what they think matters, do what they think is important and stick to familiar environments.

It is assumed that if you just work out a vision/mission document, the cascade will automatically align top down. Well it does not. The most important aspect is emotional involvement of all parties concerned. What is the additional happiness trigger for each and every member. Is it clearly expressed and agreed upon? Is it "shiny" (motivating) enough to be more important than personal values and beliefs?

By the way and for the anecdote: the approach briefly described above, is the one I used several years ago to save and align the most important "team" in my life: my marriage. When one marries, one expresses a fairly rational promise to stick together whatever happens. After some years, the 'team' members tend to forget this and you find couples starting to focus on what matters to them while constantly nagging about what matters to the other. "My team" went thru a similar evolution and was on the verge of a break up. It took some serious conversations and we agreed on a common goal : "grow old together, being each others greatest fan". We found ourselves excited (emo) by the idea of how we could get along again, acting like fans and idols and as such be happy (emo). Think about how one refers to ones idols... interesting. The subsequent systemic flow only consolidated the team to a level one can only dream of.


Spend an exaggerated amount of time (preferably accompanied by a professional coach) on 'getting emotional' and on clearly calibrating, expressing and aligning individual emotions of all people involved. There is a vast collection of proven methods available to do this. Only when the "Emo's" are in balance, "ratio" will assist to plan, implement and integrate in a powerful and effective way. (it is one-directional)

Thanks for reading, feel free to comment and/or share.

Live great and optimistic lives Hans

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