SD in Action

Spiral Dynamics Tools in Team Building


Fourteen high powered executives from SariComp Industries are gathered around a conference table. Some are hunched over; others are standing around observing; one leans back on the conference chair intently watching the proceedings; and a few are working to connect the remaining red and green yarn between the colorful paper profiles laid out on the table. A spider web has formed between them as they intensely debate what does and doesn’t work in their efforts at working together. Recognizing their own styles, how they interact, and how that helps or hinders their approach to working and collaboration is at the center of their animated conversation. The big question facing them: how do we become a high performing, functional team?

The main hurdle standing in the way has been overcome: they are openly debating their issues, discussing the obstacles, respectfully and functionally disagreeing in an atmosphere of mutual trust and respect.


The Interdependent Work Environment

Changes in the competitive multinational environment in which the company operates caused them to seek new insights; these come from our Spiral Dynamics assessment suite.  They help to describe the problems, the conditions, and the nature of the environmental pressures the team faces along with the approach needed to effectively handle them. For example, yesterday, an end-to-end supply chain could be created in the factory, in a town, or within the organization’s infrastructure within a country. The new work environment takes place in a global economy that is less sensitive to local fluctuations in production demand and more sensitive to broader market conditions where an end-to-end supply chain is often spread over several countries and often over several continents.

Once an organization has done everything in its power to become lean, efficient and effective, the relative return on investment becomes progressively smaller as processes and systems are pushed to their operating limits. Competitors have done the same. How does the organization gain a competitive advantage? The mission for this three day program: help this group look at ways to more effectively work together.


The secret sauce lies in the “soft”

Trainers, facilitators, and builders of teams often miss or avoid the underlying human factors – the soft personal and interpersonal “stuff” – that makes or destroys the secret sauce behind team cohesion. Often these elements are hidden to the team members, themselves, though the resulting stresses and problems might be quite visible.

Organizations also avoid the “soft” for various reasons. Thus, ambitious, directive, and goal focused leaders, used to high levels of autonomy and unaccustomed to working together on a day-to-day basis with their peers, find themselves tripping over one another while each attempts to take the lead in meeting organizational objectives. They have difficulty functioning interdependently. Rather than submit or cooperate, in this environment the leader must lead AND follow AND collaborate as an equal simultaneously.

The glue that binds and the stressors that crack teams into dysfunction lie in several impasses: processing styles, fundamental differences in worldview, values and priorities – the “soft” factors make or break performance. Failing to recognize and deal with these up front often sabotages group functioning down the road.  The more entrenched the issues, the greater the difficulty to root them out and accurately identify them later. Our tools, approach, methodology and assessments help to address the human process gluing people into a team while shrinking the impasses. Groups must be willing to put in the commitment and effort into making the changes.

Groups of people finding themselves working together are often and erroneously called a “team”. People in the same department working together over many years might never form into a high-performance team, even though they have multiple and daily interactions, feel fondness and trust for one another; and might even call themselves a team. Conversely and counter-intuitively, people from different countries and cultures, with different experience sets and goals, who have never physically met, can work together productively as a highly functioning team when the conditions and connections are considered.

The SariComp executives went from a group of leaders, who had never met but were at odds tripping over one another trying to take command of the group, to a team working together towards high functioning collaboration. Decision making improved; stress decreased; performance increased; and output, within each leader’s purview, increased because they took the time to work on the soft, messy, and often invisible realm of building the quality of their sauce.

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