A fool with a tool is still a fool – When introducing tools and methods in the context of New Work, the underlying structure and purpose of the collaboration is crucial. If this is not clarified, the tools will not unfold their full effect. Accordingly, the introduction of these tools is first guided by the principles of High Performance Culture, which places a high value on the purpose of the project in collaboration. The first step is to hold an initiation workshop with the team to shed light on the collaboration model. The first initialisation workshop brings clarity about the team goals and values, about roles and responsibilities, about the competences and experiences of individuals, about how to deal with obstacles and problems, and about the way of working together. This is because when applying the tools, a common understanding of the underlying theories is crucial for high performance.
Figure 1: Content of the Team Initialisation Workshop
Once the purpose orientation is established, cooperation is structured on its basis. The focus is on interaction within the team. What types of interaction are needed in the cooperation and how should they be structured? If they are effective and efficient and the risk of a loss of performance is reduced, the inner cohesion that is important for high performance is formed in the team and the team grows together as a whole.
Interaction in the team basically consists of informal and formal exchange, whereby only the formal exchange can be organised. To promote informal exchange, only a framework can be created that enables this communication. More concrete content in this sense can be found in the service Design of High-Performance Teams. In order to be able to organise and structure formal interaction, a distinction is made on the one hand in the depth of detail, i.e. status communication or technical communication, and on the other hand there is the reference to the content focus: operational, executive and strategic.
Operational focus is about concentrating on the here-and-now, the problems and deviations, as well as immediate remedial actions, in order to generate the greatest possible amount towards the customer. The strategic focus is on “tomorrow”, i.e. the goals, progress and reflection. How far is it until they are achieved? Do the goals set still fit, or has something changed in the context? With the focus on the executive, cooperation is brought into the centre of consideration. How can we work together better? What is helpful and needs to be maintained? What is obstructive and needs to be changed? What issues hinder our cooperation and need to be resolved as soon as possible? These are some exemplary questions to reflect on executive cooperation.
Figure 2: Communication Landscape of Teams
It is recommended to establish a separate meeting for each of these fields of the communication landscape, which has a corresponding focus and a defined repetition frequency. The following applies: The faster the change, the higher the frequency.
Only after this definition we can look at collaboration tools. Different modern communication platforms and methods can support the team’s cooperation and interaction processes. The teams themselves decide which channels and tools they want to use for which purposes. However, at least one tool should make it possible to have the goals and the purpose of the project constantly present during the operational status communication in order to align the team’s actions with the strategic goals and to lead it in a purpose-oriented way. In the daily interaction, this supports prioritisation, decision-making, responsibility taking and role allocation, which forms the basis of excellent cooperation. Communication channels can be divided into the two modes asynchronous and synchronous. While in synchronous communication the communication takes place simultaneously and the recipient of a message can react immediately, in asynchronous communication the sequence is time-delayed. Reading and writing are asynchronous channels, whereby reading is four times faster than writing or drawing. Speaking and presenting as well as listening and understanding are synchronous communication modes. Speaking and presenting is two times faster than listening and understanding.
Figure 3: Communication Modus and Channel
The different communication channels can be implemented with the help of various communication tools. For example, in the web conference communication channel, there is a wealth of tools that can be used, such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom and Skype. One component of the team initialisation workshop is the development of communication rules. With the help of these, it should be determined which channel or which tool should be used when and how. The aim of the rules is to promote joint cooperation and information transparency within the team.
Figure 4: Example of developed Communication Rules in the Team
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Markus Fost, MBA, is an expert in e-commerce, online business models and digital transformation, with broad experience in the fields of strategy, organisation, corporate finance and operational restructuring.Learn more