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Achieving Commitment on a High-Performing Team

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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Svitlana Kostenko
After working on building trust and embracing conflict, the Blue Widgets team, made up of Amir, Jakob, Lina, and Gabrielle, have been working together quite well. They have grown comfortable being vulnerable with one another and even engaging in spirited debate when it is appropriate. However, their team lead, Jakob, recognizes that the team's work is just beginning. They must now learn to achieve commitment.

Commitment Issues

Commitment is a group of individuals buying in to a decision even when they don't naturally agree. It requires two things: clarity and buy-in. Clarity requires that teams avoid assumptions and ambiguity, and that they end discussions with a clear understanding about what they've decided upon. And though it might come as a surprise, buy-in does not require consensus. Members of great teams learn to disagree with one another and still commit to a decision. This, Jakob knows, is one of the major identifying factors of a high-performing team.

Thematic Goals

Jakob invites the Blue Widgets team to a training. This one, he says, has a very specific purpose. The team is going to choose a thematic goal. There's a moment of silence before Lina speaks up. 'Okay, I'll bite,' she says. 'What is a thematic goal?' Jakob explains that a thematic goal is a single, overriding theme that remains the top priority of the entire team for a period of time. It should not be quantitative, but rather a general achievement, sort of like a rallying cry. It ensures that the entire team places extra emphasis on a single area of priority, so that when push comes to shove, everyone understands what matters most.

Each thematic goal can have more specific supporting objectives, which identify things that would need to be accomplished for the team to achieve the thematic goal.

Thematic Goal

Some examples of thematic goals include things like 'improve customer loyalty,' 'get operating expenses under control,' 'increase market awareness,' 'strengthen the team,' and 'grow market share.' For example, if a team's thematic goal was to 'create a single company,' some of their supporting objectives might be to 'unify their new executive team,' 'create consistent policies,' 'integrate differing IT systems,' 'establish a single brand,' and 'consolidate customer support.'

Supporting Example

Process for Establishing Thematic Goals

Now that the Blue Widgets team has a shared understanding of what a thematic goal is, it's time for them to try and establish one of their own. Jakob asks every member of the team to jot down their answer to the question: 'If we accomplish one thing during the next three months, what would it be?' After a few minutes, Jakob asks Gabrielle to share first. She says that in the next 3 months, the team needs to have a strong design for their Blue Widget. Amir says that he thinks they should focus on hiring new team members, while Lina wants to have all of the Blue Widget code written and tested. Jakob shares that he thinks the Blue Widget team should strive to have a finished, deliverable Blue Widget in the next 3 months.

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