The 6 team conditions framework seems like the work of psychodynamic therapy. The way my therapist puts it, the approach is for the therapist to create a space for the patient's mind to heal.

Ramblings About Team Coaching

It strikes me that the 6 team conditions framework is like the work of psychodynamic therapy. The way my therapist puts it, the approach is for the therapist to create a space for the patient's mind to heal. This means the job is:

  1. take away all the conditions that caused the trauma
  2. recall those same events in a safe space, and
  3. allow the mind to re-associate safe feelings with those historical events.

This works in stark contrast to the methods of cognitive behavioral therapy which work more towards creating quick fixes by teaching patients coping tools (such as reframing, journaling, etc.). In a few words: teaching someone a new process for living their life.

I'm not trying to say that one mode of therapy is "better" than another. I'm not qualified to make a judgment about that! In fact, a good therapist likely has awareness of many modalities. They make a call based on what their patient needs.

My Buddhist background and studies in mindfulness practice resonate with the psychodynamic approach. Sure, I learned some tools for dealing with difficult emotions and so forth. But, the core of the practice is to create space for your mind to do its thing.

It isn't surprising that I like the 6 team conditions framework. The gist of it that if you have the team conditions in place, it almost doesn't matter what your process is. The team will figure out how to deliver results. It is swimming in a system that allows for them to become what they need to become.

This explains my default mode for whenever I am working in a high-process company. I spend most of my time asking what we can take away from the process, not what we can add.

The 6 Conditions

Here are the 6 conditions, in order of importance. Not focusing on the top ones will make the lower-down ones less likely to be helpful. The first three are essential.

(1) Real Team

Does the work we are doing need a real team? Does our purpose need us to be interdependent, working together? If it does, and we aren't, there will be much difficulty in getting anything substantial done. Is the team membership stable? If not, the people on the team will always be
re-learning how to work together.

(2) Compelling Purpose

Is our team's purpose challenging yet possible? Is it important to the lives of other people, and clear to everyone? If so, we will know where we are headed and work towards it.

(3) Right People

Do we have enough diversity and appropriate skills to get our work done? This includes teamwork skills!

(4) Sound Structure

Is the team big enough that people can take vacation? Is it so big that it takes forever for people to agree on new norms of conduct? The "right size" is very important.

(5) Supportive Context

Is excellence rewarded at the team level? Individual rewards will erode teamwork, unless of course those rewards are ABOUT teamwork. But those are quite difficult to achieve.

Do we have all the information we need to make good decisions on the fly? Or are we always asking for permission to take action?

(6) Expert Coaching

Do we have access to someone who can coach us towards being a better team? Is the coach good at what they do? In fact, having access to coaching too early is wasteful. You should focus on getting the above conditions in place before doing any coaching. The impact of coaching on a badly structured organization is much less effective.

So what?

The more I think about all this, the more I wonder. What is the right thing to do for an organization aiming to transform itself? It's almost as if the best transformations will be well-informed by human psychology. And, of course, appropriate organizational systems.

Any kind of change must begin with trusting the people in the organization. They will figure out how to work better if they are held within conditions that are ideal for their work. More often than not, that means trusting your teams. Structure them correctly. And, give them the information and authority they need to get their jobs done.

tags: xp