The Missing Link for Business and Culture Transformation

By Mark Samuel, Founder & CEO BSTATE

One of the most common sentiments and frustrations we hear from business leaders is that they feel like they’re spinning on a hamster wheel, implementing team building programs, Agile processes, and competency-based trainings, but can’t seem to get that transformative breakthrough change that they’re looking for. 

The problem is that most consultants and programs don’t offer the one key implementation that is proven to create the quickest, most sustainable business and culture transformation for clients and organizations with as many as 5,000 employees.  That missing piece is team habits of collective execution, or the way people work together to achieve desired outcomes. 

While team habits of collective execution are not often considered in business teams, this is exactly what top athletic teams, music groups and dance companies practice everyday to optimize their performance. They develop agreed upon habits for communicating to each other, coordinating their different roles, surfacing and solving problems, and even recovering when someone makes a mistake. None of those performance behaviors are left to chance. 

Unfortunately, the norm in business is far from the excellence experienced by these athletic and artistic teams. Businesses talk philosophy and blame others instead of taking full accountability for creating new habits that will optimize performance. Instead, business leaders try to appease everyone, avoid the difficult conversations, and pretend that accommodating everyone’s different style is the way to achieve excellence. 

Three Steps for Implementing Team Habits in Your Organization

Step 1: Picture of Success for the Future Now

If you were already achieving breakthrough business results, how would your leaders be functioning differently than they ever have before? How would the role of every level of leadership and every department be expanded to keep up with the new business, the new processes, the new technology, or the new customer demands to ensure optimal results? 

Step 2: Translate the Picture of Success into Defining New Roles of Leadership at every level

One of the biggest breakdowns of most organizations is that leaders at every level tend to operate at a lower level than their actual level. Executives function more like middle managers, middle managers function like supervisors, and supervisors function like operating leads. You can’t achieve Breakthrough Results and Cultural Transformation until people step up to a new level of inclusion and accountability and become change agents for the new Picture of Success. 

Step 3: Translate the Expanded Roles of each Level of Leadership into agreed upon

Team Habits that will optimize business results given the natural constraints of the organization. This is not a one-size fits all solution. Every organization, and in fact every cross-functional leadership team, needs to collectively determine how to optimize execution and express it in the form of new Team Habits that represent the process and behaviors for optimizing planning, coordination, collaboration, problems solving, communication, and making decisions. 

Step 4: Track and Measure the Team Habits, Their Impact on Business Results and their Impact on the Culture

Execution always precedes business results. Even leading indicators for results come from collective execution. Therefore, if you want to get ahead of business breakdowns and cultural toxicity, it comes from the effectiveness of collective execution. Learn to track and improve Team Habits the way athletic teams use “game tapes,” surface practical issues that prevented successful execution, and problem solve those breakdowns on a regular and consistent basis.