SuddenTeams™ Program>
The Why and How of SuddenTeams

Contents


Why Use this Teambuilding Method?

Better Teamwork

When people get a mutual sense of direction, feel accountable to each other, and enjoy working with each other, they:

  • accomplish more,
  • communicate better,
  • fight less,
  • reduce costs,
  • raise their job satisfaction, and
  • please their customers more (inside or outside the company).

Results, not Theory

Every other teambuilding site or book will tell you all that. Unlike those sources, The SuddenTeams™ Program is the only one that will tell you exactly what to say and do to gain those benefits. For decades, scientists have been conducting experiments, giving out questionnaires, and interviewing and observing workers, managers, and test subjects working in teams. By doing so, they have identified what successful teams do to outperform their peers and competitors. This site is a specific, step-by-step manual for using their results to turn your work group into a high-performance team. It will help you convert a so-called “team” into a “true team,” optimize a good existing team, or solve specific team problems. There is little in the way of history, theory, or arguments for teaming. That makes this site unlike anything else you will find on the bookshelves or the Web. This site is about creating results, not just talking about them.

True Teambuilding

Along those lines, this is not a “teambuilding” site in the sense most people use that term. Teambuilding exercises are fun, but in most cases they create no lasting positive effects. During the extensive research done for this site, not one scientifically valid study was found to show that teambuilding exercises are worth their time or cost. Two of the most respected researchers into teamwork put it this way: “Sending a bunch of men and women on an (outdoor) course to simulate teaming may be fun, but it doesn’t accomplish much.”[1]

The logic is simple: Problems that developed over thousands of working hours are not going to be solved in a four-hour game or even a two-day retreat. Plus, humans struggle to apply lessons learned in one context to a different context. By making the needed changes on-site with this program, during the working day, using the team’s real work challenges, you will make the needed changes part of your team’s daily culture.

Facts, not Guesswork

This site is a trimmed-down, “do-it-yourself” version of a 500-page manual ultimately based on more than 600 scientific and professional sources (see “Bibliography”). I used that version from 2000 to 2014 in a consulting practice, TeamTrainers™ Consulting, to train managers, teach seminars, and turn work groups into high-performance teams. Most consultants have not done that level of research, and thus end up repeating myths or making educated guesses based on their own experiences. Academic books have better facts, but are written by people who spend the majority of their time in the classroom or laboratory. This is the only site that combines scientific fact with extensive business world experience to provide you with a proven step-by-step training program.

Note on the Web Version

Over the years my full-time career as a program/project manager and Agile coach came into closer and closer alignment with my TeamTrainers work. By 2014 I was spending a significant portion of my life improving teams. Passionate as I am about that pursuit, I also believe in maintaining a healthy work/life balance! I decided to give up my consulting work to spend my free time on other projects. Though the print version of this site had been quite profitable, it was tied to a Web site I was closing and was primarily a marketing tool, so I removed it from publication.

This seemed like a waste of useful information, however, and went against my old TeamTrainers mission to “spread the benefits of true teamwork as widely as possible.” I decided to create a PDF version and give it away. Other than removal of references to TeamTrainers and its Web site, and the inclusion of the full bibliography that had been on the site, this was the same text formerly offered at $24.99. In 2017, after pausing my career to convert a book-length description of my system for scaling Agile project management into a Web hypertext (FullStackScrum.net), I decided to give The SuddenTeams Program the same treatment.

The research on our irrational minds suggests that unconsciously your brain will value the information less because it is free! But I assure you it is just as useful as it was with a price tag. If you will overcome your doubts and take full advantage of its exercises, you will see remarkable changes in your team in return for your investment of time. And now time is all you have to invest!

How to Use This Site

Read it Through

The person who will be leading the team through the program should start by reading the site straight through to the “Troubleshooting” section. You may not need every step of the program for your team, but you cannot make that judgment safely without seeing how every piece fits together. This is the first step in your team’s change toward using best practices: investing the time to understand the big picture before tackling a big project.

You (the training leader) should also skim through the “Troubleshooting” section. This contains individual techniques for handling specific challenges. During the training, try to use several of the “Decision-Making” and “Problem-Solving” techniques to give the team some practice with them. Use the others as needed, during or after the training.

While the training leader is reading the site, the manager (if different) should read the “Manager Guide” section and perform its “action boxes,” as explained below. This program defines the “manager” as the “person who everyone on the team reports to within the team’s function. If you all work in the same part of your company, it is the first level of supervisor you all answer to (even if members have different supervisors in between). If you have been brought together on a project team, it is the project manager.” Note that to optimize performance, there are tasks the manager should complete before the team training begins. But even if the manager is not assisting with this program, team members can still make things better for themselves using it.

Choose Your Tools

There is no “easy way” to create a high-performance team. To get the highest productivity and job satisfaction, you should follow the program straight through. However, if you cannot convince the team or your managers to take the time, even by spreading it over a long period, pick out the sections you think will do the most good given your team’s challenges. At the very least, I recommend that every team:

  1. Read the following and perform the action boxes in them:
    1. The “Team Readings” page.
    2. On the “Team Training” page, these sections:
      1. “Meeting Schedule.”
      2. “Rules/Values.”
      3. “Roles.”
      4. Under “Team Procedures,” the “Member Conflicts” section.
      5. “Work Procedures.”
      6. “Finalize Drafts.”
  2. In the course of performing Step 1, use the following from the “Troubleshooting” section:
    • “Brainstorming” and one other “Problem-Solving” technique.
    • Two “Decision-Making” techniques.
    • One “Prioritizing” technique.
  3. Familiarize all members with the rest of the “Troubleshooting” section to help you react faster with possible solutions as problems arise.

The team manager should at least read the “Team Readings” and “Manager Guide” sections.

But please consider performing the whole program, even if you take a year or more to do it. The extra training time will more than pay for itself.

Follow the Steps

Throughout the site, you will see sets of instructions within sets of steps. To begin the program, perform the ones in the “Preparation” section. Step sets appear in a specific order, so if at all possible, do not skip ahead unless you are choosing to skip a section in your team’s training. A few marked “Optional” are less important to optimizing team performance, but are still recommended.

One of the sets for the “Preparation” section instructs you to have the members read the “Team Readings” page before beginning the training. Be sure to tell them the team will go back and do that section’s steps as part of the training.

When preparations are complete, dive into the “Team Training” section. Read the regular text out loud during the training sessions, or give people a moment to read for themselves. Then do each set of steps as you come to it. Use the meeting facilitation skills from the “Team Readings” section as you do so. When you get to the “Manager Guide” section, you are done!

Footnotes mostly tell what source a quotation or statistic came from, in a shortened form like “Morgan 95.” For details, look on the “Bibliography” page for the source with that author and year. A few footnotes provide additional information about the topic. Sometimes amusing, they are worth a look when you get a chance, but would slow down the flow if included in the main text. Read those to the team during the training if you like.

To get started, take a deep breath, and click the next link.

The SuddenTeams Program | Preparation


[1] Katzenbach and Smith, quoted in Shuit 2003.