Matrix Vision Logo

matrix vision newsletter              
Working Together Issue
May, 2013
In This Issue
Working Together
Lessons about Working Together
The Five Dysfunctions of a Team
Team Effectiveness Survey
Quick Links
Join Mailing List
Working Together Story


One day a little old and very cute couple walked into the local fast food restaurant. The little old man went up to the counter and ordered their food. He brought back to the table a hamburger, a small amount of fries and a drink.


Carefully he sliced the hamburger in two and then neatly divided the fries into two small piles. He sipped the drink and then passed it to his wife. She took a sip and passed it back.


A younger man at a nearby table observed this couple and begin to feel sorry for them. He offered to buy them another meal, but the old man respectfully declined saying that they were used to sharing everything.


The old man began to eat his food while his wife sat still, not eating. The young man continued to watch the old couple feeling there was something he should be doing to help. As the old man finished his half of the burger and fries, the old lady still had not started eating hers.


The young man couldn't take it anymore. He asked, "Ma'am, why aren't you eating?" The old lady looked up and politely said, pointing to the old man, "I'm waiting on the teeth." 



Working Together Quotes
"The secret is to gang up on the problem, rather than each other." 
Thomas Stallkamp


" Gettin' good players is easy. Gettin' 'em to play together is the hard part. 
Casey Stengel


Individual commitment to a group effort-that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilisation work."  
Vince Lombardi
"If two men on the same job agree all the time, then one is useless. If they disagree all the time, both are useless.


Darryl F. Zanuck

"People have been known to achieve more as a result of working with others than against them." 
Dr. Allan Fromme


"In union there is strength." 



"Remember upon the conduct of each depends the fate of all. "

Alexander the Great

"When he took time to help the man up the mountain, lo, he scaled it himself." 
Tibetan Proverb
"The greater the loyalty of a group toward the group, the greater is the motivation among the members to achieve the goals of the group, and the greater the probability that the group will achieve its goals."
Rensis Likert
"It is literally true that you can succeed best and quickest by helping others to succeed."
Napoleon Hill 
"No individual can win a game by himself."  
"Conflict is inevitable in a team ... in fact, to achieve synergistic solutions, a variety of ideas and approaches are needed. These are the ingredients for conflict.
Susan Gerke


"The key elements in the art of working together are how to deal with change, how to deal with conflict, and how to reach our potential...the needs of the team are best met when we meet the needs of individual persons."


Max DePree
"No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent."  
John Donne 


"Cooperation is the thorough conviction that nobody can get there unless everybody gets there." 


   Virginia Burden


"Teamwork is so important that it is virtually impossible for you to reach the heights of your capabilities or make the money that you want without becoming very good at it."  
   Brian Tracy
"There is no limit to what can be accomplished when none cares who gets the credit."  
Harry S. Truman
Welcome to the matrix vision newsletter for May 2013. 


The theme of this newsletter is "Working Together". This is an important topic in business. Organisations succeed to the extent that there is contribution from, coordination of and cooperation between the people who work in the business. 
A couple of years ago I devoted an edition of this newsletter to the topic of Teamwork. In that edition I outlined the philosophy and approach I use when helping teams get better, get ready or get download a brochure explaining that approach CLICK HERE.
I tried not to repeat myself so hopefully this edition will build on the previous one.
The newsletter covers several topics: 
  • the benefits of working together
  • the "science" of teamwork
  • the importance of the team leader
  • critique
  • barriers to critique
  • trusting others
  • what geese can teach us about working together
  • the hare and the tortoise lessons
  • the five dysfunctions of a team.
  • using Surveys and Feedback to establish and build stronger teams
Enjoy your reading and as always your feedback would be welcome!

By the way, one of my clients John Balass, Managing Director of Devex Systems took the time recently to make a video sharing his view of the work that I had done for him.  Please have a look at what he said - CLICK HERE

If any of the information interests you and if you would like to find out how it can help you please contact us. We would love to talk with you.

Working Together



We all have experienced times when we were part of a great team and there are other times when we struggle along in isolation. In my experience there are 6 main benefits of working together:


  1. More creativity leading to more ideas and better results
  2. Increased employee satisfaction
  3. The opportunity to develop and acquire new skills
  4. The speed at which things can be achieved
  5. A sounding board for testing out ideas and thoughts
  6. A support network that you can draw on





Often we see teams that are "clicking." We've experienced the "buzz" of a group that's blazing away with new ideas in a way that makes it seem they can read each other's' minds. We think of building teams that operate on this plane as an art, or even magic. It's not something you can plan; it's lightning-in-a-bottle stuff that you just embrace when you're lucky enough to come across it.

But is it a real, observable and measurable thing and can we  understand good teamwork as a hard science.


A team at MIT's Human Dynamics Laboratory has done just that. Using wearable electronic sensors called sociometric badges, they capture how people communicate in real time, and not only are they able to determine the characteristics that make up great teams, but they can also describe those characteristics mathematically. What's more, they have discovered that some things matter much less than you may suspect when building a great team. Getting the smartest people, for example.


An article in HBR's April Spotlight on teams describes in detail the new science of building great teams. We can summarise those points here. The data show that great teams:

  • Communicate frequently. In a typical project team a dozen or so communication exchanges per working hour may turn out to be optimum; but more or less than that and team performance can decline.
  • Talk and listen in equal measure, equally among members. Lower performing teams have dominant members, teams within teams, and members who talk or listen but don't do both.
  • Engage in frequent informal communication. The best teams spend about half their time communicating outside of formal meetings or as "asides" during team meetings, and increasing opportunities for informal communication tends to increase team performance.
  • Explore for ideas and information outside the groupThe best teams periodically connect with many different outside sources and bring what they learn back to the team.

from "The Hard Science of Teamwork" - Alexander Pentland





The Pivotal Role of Team Leader


Teams are essential to the customer-driven, process-focused organisation. Skilled team leaders are essential to effective teams.


So at the centre of everything that's happening in such an organisation is a role that, like an axle, must carry the load and move it forward. It's the pivotal role of team leader. Whether a team is temporary or permanent, functional or cross-functional, organised around an ongoing leader or moving toward self-management - that team needs skilled leadership. Team leaders are at the very hub where strategy becomes reality.


Years of research and the practical experience of hundreds of companies moving to teams confirm the importance of the role of team leader. Specifically: 

  1. Without specially trained and skilful leaders, teams run a high risk of failing in their own eyes and the eyes of the organisation.
  2. Asked what they would have done differently, organisations implementing teams often report that they wish they'd given much more attention, training, and support of their team leaders.
  3. Within days of taking on their new role, team leaders usually realise they need a new set of team-leadership skills - quick! For supervisors or managers moving from a management-centred, non-team, one-on-one role, that need is urgent,
  4. Even where shared leadership within the team is the ultimate goal, the team as a whole still reports to someone who by definition needs advanced team-leadership skills.Plus, each team member of a shared-leadership team needs team-leadership skills. (These teams aren't leaderless. They're "leader-full.")
  5. Formal team leaders who see themselves either as "top sergeants" or as "just team members with a few extra things to do" greatly increase the chance of total team failure.


Without skilled leadership, teams can easily flounder, get off course, go too far or not go far enough, lose sight of their mission and connection with other teams, lose confidence, get stymied by interpersonal conflict, and simply fall far short of their enormous potential-especially in the early months and years of their development.


How do you harness the genius of the people on your team? You have to: 

  • Trust team members and build their trust in you.
  • Focus the team on its mission, goals, measurements, and boundaries.
  • Keep the team energised and moving forward.
  • Help team members bring their knowledge and experience to bear on solving stubborn problems.
  • Expand the team's range of effectiveness.
  • Encourage innovation and measured risk taking.
  • Share key information with the team.
  • Make team members genuine business partners.
  • Help the team learn and grow from their mistakes.
  • Build the commitment of the team to its own success and to the success of other teams and the whole organisation.


from "Leading Teams" - J Zenger





 To find out how you we can to help your business develop your teams and your leaders












The key to successful teamwork is to establish agreements which provide the focus and guide the behaviour of each of the members of the team. No team can be successful without having all team members understanding and supporting these agreements. These agreements generally cover the areas of goals, roles, processes and relationships.



These agreements can only be developed successfully through the involvement of all of the team members in meetings. Therefore the major thrust of the development of teamwork is through introducing processes and tools that enhance the quality of meetings and enable teams to create better quality agreements.

One such tool is critique which is defined as "critically examining experiences in order to learn".  When organisations adopt a culture of critique it opens the door to real continuous improvement.  Teams use critique to form the agreements which drive teamwork.  They regularly meet to explore how the agreements have been going and to apply critique to forming new agreements moving forward.
Blake and Mouton define four broad classes of critique technique - inspection, simulation, participant observation and strategic assessment.

Barriers to Effective Critique


The effective use of critique, particularly when the methods used include participation observation or strategic assessment, can be strengthened when those involved discuss and agree on the importance of reducing the barriers that exist. Awareness of what these barriers are adds to the possibility that they can be reduced or even eliminated altogether. They are as follows: 

  • Participants may become so involved in the content of problem solving that they are blinded to the need for checking out the soundness of what is going on.
  • Fear of failure or of wasting effort is sometimes the unstated reason for not stopping to critique; it is frequently also unreal,
  • The boss of a team needs to recognise whether strong personal convictions about what needs to be done block critique.
  • The boss has already decided the way things should go and believes critique will prevent the action from being taken.
  • The time consumed in carrying out critique may be more than can be justified from the gains that might be realised from using it.
  • There may be concern that if participants say what they really think, tempers will flare and frank expressions will cause the situation to get out of control.
  • Critique may show that the course of action being followed is wrong, but it may not reveal a better way. The fear is that the situation may end up in despair.
  • If negative interpersonal feelings are expressed, antagonisms can be inflamed that might lead to mutual destructiveness.
  • Members may be distrustful of one another to such a degree that no one is willing to give another an advantage by exposing what he or she thinks to criticism.
  • Members may screen what they are about to say for acceptability, before saying it. This may create the appearance of frankness, but the candour needed for bringing negative performance into the open will not occur.
from "Making Experience Work" - R Blake & J Mouton



Michael Lombardo and Robert Eichinger have observed and identified a number of team competencies.


One such competency area for teams is TRUST which they define as "Trusting others to do what's right for the team and for each other".


Within the competency area associated with trust they define a specific competency as Trust in Truthful Communication.  The success of a team at this competency can be measured by the answer to the question - Was communication inside the team open, honest and complete?


Lombardo and Eichinger go on to identify the behaviours that you would see in teams that are skilled and unskilled in this competency. 



  • Team members speak up and say what's on their minds
  • Team members take the time to understand one another's differences and expertise
  • Team members are open with one another about their viewpoints
  • Team members are receptive to candidly observing and improving their own team process
  • lssues are always surfaced in public and solved collectively
  • Team members help each other to surface issues sensitively
  • Team members give others time to vent
  • Team goes into problem solving mode when issues are surfaced rather than finding blame or dismissing


  • Team members aren't willing to stand alone and voice critical thoughts, ideas and feelings
  • Team avoids internal conflict
  • lssues are not out in the open; undiscussables exist and may be brewing beneath the surface
  • Team may not take the time to identify, understand or Ieverage individual differences, including both strengths and weaknesses
  • Team members may not be forthcoming or honest with one another
  • Team members are stuck in their ways of doing things
  • lssues are discussed but they are discussed off-line; not so much in public or out in the open
  • There are cliques in the team that keep information from others
  • Team is arrogant and not willing to examine itself critically
  • Some team members are not truthful communicators 








If you need help with building teams that create continuous improvement 

give us a call....






Lessons about Working Together

Lessons from Geese
Lessons From Geese




Fact 1: As each goose flap its wings it creates an "uplift" for the birds that follow.  By flying in a "V" formation, the whole flock adds 71% greater range than if each bird flew alone.

Lesson: People who share a common sense of direction and community can get where they are going quicker and easier because they are traveling on the thrust of one another.


Fact 2: When a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of flying alone. It quickly moves back into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird immediately in front of it.
If we have as much sense as a goose we stay in formation with those headed where we want to go. We are willing to accept their help and give our help to others.

Fact 3: When the lead goose tires, it rotates back into the formation and another goose flies to the point position.

It pays to take turns doing the hard tasks and sharing leadership, as with geese, people are interdependent on each other's skill, capabilities and unique arrangement of gifts, talents or resources.


Fact 4: The geese flying in formation honk to encourage those up front to keep up their speed.


We need to make sure our honking is encouraging. In groups where there is encouragement, the productivity is much greater. The power of encouragement (to stand by one's heart or core values and encourage the heart and core of others) is the quality of honking we seek.


Fact 5: When a goose gets sick, wounded or shot down, two geese drop out of formation and follow it down to help and protect it. They stay until it dies or can fly again. Then they launch out with another formation or catch up with the flock.


If we have as much sense as geese, we will stand by each other in difficult times as well as when we are strong.



"Lessons from Geese" was transcribed from a speech given by Angeles Arrien at the 1991 Organisational Development Network and is based on the work of Milton Olson.





Hare and the Tortoise  




Lessons from the Hare and the Tortoise Story
(with some retelling)








Once upon a time a tortoise and a hare had an argument about who was faster.

They decided to settle the argument with a race. They agreed on a route and started off the race.

The hare shot ahead and ran briskly for some time. Then seeing that he was far ahead of the tortoise, he thought he'd sit under a tree and relax before continuing the race.

He sat under the tree and soon fell asleep. 

The tortoise plodding on overtook him and soon finished the race, emerging as the undisputed champ.

The hare woke up and realised that he'd lost the race.


The moral of the story is 
Slow and steady wins the race.



This is the version of the story that we all are grown up with.


However the story continues....


The hare was disappointed at losing the race and he did some soul-searching. He realised that he'd lost the race only because he had been overconfident, careless and lax. If he had not taken things for granted, there's no way the tortoise could have beaten him. 

So he challenged the tortoise to another race. The tortoise agreed.  

This time, the hare went all out and ran without stopping from start to finish. He won by several miles. 


The moral of the story?


Fast and consistent will always beat the slow and steady. If you have two people in your organisation, one slow, methodical and reliable, and the other fast and still reliable at what he does, the fast and reliable person will consistently climb the organisational ladder faster than the slow, methodical one.

It's good to be slow and steady; but it's better to be fast and reliable.


But the story doesn't end here.... 


The tortoise did some thinking this time, and came to the conclusion that there's no way he can beat the hare in a race the way it was currently formatted. 

He thought for a while, and then challenged the hare to another race, but on a slightly different route.

The hare agreed. 

They started off. In keeping with his self-made commitment to be consistently fast, the hare took off and ran at top speed until he came to a broad river. The finishing line was a couple of kilometres on the other side of the river.

The hare sat there wondering what to do. In the meantime the tortoise trundled along, got into the river, swam to the opposite bank, continued walking and finished the race.


The moral of the story?


First identify your core competency and then change the playing field to suit your core competency.

In an organisation, if you are a good speaker, make sure you create opportunities to give presentations that enable the senior management to notice you.

If your strength is analysis, make sure you do some sort of research, make a report and send it upstairs.

Working to your strengths will not only get you noticed, but will also create opportunities for growth and advancement.   


The story still hasn't ended...


The hare and the tortoise, by this time, had become pretty good friends and they did some thinking together. Both realised that the last race could have been run much better.

So they decided to do the last race again, but to run as a team this time.

They started off, and this time the hare carried the tortoise till the riverbank. 

There, the tortoise took over and swam across with the hare on his back. 

On the opposite bank, the hare again carried the tortoise and they reached the finishing line together. They both felt a greater sense of satisfaction than they'd felt earlier. 


The moral of the story?


It's good to be individually brilliant and to have strong core competencies; but unless you're able to work in a team and harness each other's core competencies, you'll always perform below par because there will always be situations at which you'll do poorly and someone else does well.

Teamwork is mainly about shared leadership, letting the person with the relevant core competency for a situation take leadership.



To sum up, the story of the hare and tortoise teaches us many things:  

  • Never give up when faced with failure
  • Fast and consistent will always beat slow and steady
  • Work to your competencies
  • Compete against the situation, not against a rival.
  • Pooling resources and working as a team will always beat individual performers 

Funny Cool Forwards blog





Let us show you how you can put into practice the lessons learned for your business

give us a call....




The Five Dysfunctions of a Team
5 Dysfunctions Book 
 I was fortunate that a few years ago I had the opportunity to attend the ASTD (American Society of Training and Development) Conference in San Diego.  It was astounding for me as I got to hear and even meet some of the gurus of the training world.  Here were some of the people who's books I had read and they had helped form my knowledge and skill in my field.  I was impressed with Patrick Lencioni who was one of the keynote speakers at the conference. He talked about the approach to teamwork that he had encapsulated in his book "The Five Dysfunctions of a Team".
Dysfunction No. 1: Absence of Trust


Trust lies at the heart of a functioning, cohesive team. Without it, teamwork is all but impossible. The kind of trust that is characteristic of a great team requires team members to make themselves vulnerable to one another and be confident that their respective vulnerabilities will not be used against them. These vulnerabilities include weaknesses, skill deficiencies, interpersonal shortcomings, mistakes and requests for help.


Dysfunction No. 2: Fear of Conflict


Teams that engage in productive conflict know that its only purpose is to produce the best possible solution in the shortest period of time. They discuss and resolve issues more quickly and completely than other teams do, and they emerge from heated debates with no residual feelings or collateral damage, but with an eagerness and readiness to take on the next important issue.


Dysfunction No. 3: Lack of Commitment


In the context of a team, commitment is a function of two things: clarity and buy-in. Great teams make clear and timely decisions and move forward with complete buy-in from every member of the team, even those who voted against the decision. They leave meetings confident that no one on the team is quietly harbouring doubts about whether to support the actions agreed on.


The two greatest causes of a lack of commitment are the desire for consensus and the need for certainty:

  • Consensus. Great teams understand the danger of seeking consensus, and find ways to achieve buy-in even when complete agreement is impossible. They understand that reasonable human beings do not need to get their way in order to support a decision, but only need to know that their opinions have been heard and considered.
  • Certainty. Great teams also pride themselves on being able to unite behind decisions and commit to clear courses of action even when there is little assurance about whether the decision is correct. They realise that it is better to make a decision boldly and be wrong - and then change direction with equal boldness - than it is to waffle.

Dysfunction No. 4: Avoidance of Accountability


In the context of teamwork, accountability refers specifically to the willingness of team members to call their peers on performance or behaviours that might hurt the team.


The essence of this dysfunction is an unwillingness by team members to tolerate the interpersonal discomfort that accompanies calling a peer on his or her behaviour and the more general tendency to avoid difficult conversations.


Members of great teams overcome these natural inclinations, opting instead to "enter the danger" with one another. Members of great teams improve their relationships by holding one another accountable, thus demonstrating that they respect each other and have high expectations for one another's performance.


The most effective and efficient means of maintaining high standards of performance on a team is peer pressure. More than any policy or system, there is nothing like the fear of letting down respected teammates to motivate people to improve their performance.


Dysfunction No. 5: Inattention to Results


The ultimate dysfunction of a team is the tendency of members to care about something other than the collective goals of the group. An unrelenting focus on specific objectives and clearly defined outcomes is a requirement for any team that judges itself on performance. Results are not limited to financial measures, like profit, revenue or shareholder returns. This dysfunction refers to a far broader definition of results, one that is related to outcome-based performance.


Every good organisation specifies what it plans to achieve in a given period, and these goals, more than the financial metrics that they drive, make up the majority of near-term, controllable results. So, while profit may be the ultimate measure of results for a corporation, the goals and objectives that executives set for themselves along the way constitute a more representative example of the results it strives for as a team. Ultimately, these goals drive profit.


But what would a team be focused on other than results? Team status and individual status are the prime candidates.

  • Team Status. For members of some teams, merely being part of the group is enough to keep them satisfied. For them, achieving specific results might be desirable, but not necessarily worthy of great sacrifice or inconvenience.
  • Individual Status. A functional team must make the collective results of the group more important to each individual than individual members' goals.



If you would like your team or teams to avoid, overcome or resolve these team dysfunctions and to be able to work more effectively in your business

give us a call....







Team Effectiveness Survey to help people Work Together
20/20 Logo 
Matrix Vision is a user of the most powerful and versatile feedback software tool available today. 
People need an efficient, confidential and anonymous vehicle for giving feedback to each other. State-of-the-art software can simplify the process of collecting multi-source (360) feedback for anyone in your organisation.
20/20 Insight GOLD is the world's most versatile feedback tool. With this system, we can set up surveys to collect virtually any type of feedback-ideas, opinions, impressions, ratings - from any number of people about the performance of an individual, a team or even your organisation as a whole.organisation.





Using Feedback to Improve Team Effectiveness


High performing teams thrive on feedback.  They seek feedback to build on their strengths and use it overcome some of the perceived barriers or obstacles.


Matrix Vision has developed the Team Effectiveness Survey to help teams understand how the team members feel about some key areas that are essential to effective teamwork.


This survey provides the opportunity for each of the members of a team to give some confidential, anonymous web-based feedback about how they perceive the team is going in a number of key areas.

    • How well does the team set goals or establish priorities? - GOALS
    • To what extent does the team analyse or allocate the way work is performed? - ROLES
    • How well is the team working in terms of its processes, such as norms, decision making, communications? - PROCESSES/PROCEDURES
    • To what extent does the interaction that occurs between team members assist the team? - RELATIONSHIPS
    • To what extent is team leadership present to set direction and manage the team? - LEADERSHIP
    • In addition some general items are included to allow team members to give an overall picture of the team - GENERAL PRODUCTIVITY and CLIMATE

The Team Effectiveness Survey consists of 44 items, most of which are statements about the team which the team member is asked to indicate their strength of agreement on a ten point scale.  In addition there are several open questions for team members either to explain high or low scores or to make general comments about the team.


To get more details about the Team Effectiveness Survey CLICK HERE


To learn more about the power of 20/20 Insight Gold click on the image.


20/20 Logo
To talk with us about how you can use feedback to help improve your organisation, please


All Star Thank you for taking the time to read our newsletter - winner of Constant Contact's All Star Award in 2009 and 2010.
You received this newsletter because you have some association with matrix vision.  This may be because you are already a client or customer, you are a former colleague, or perhaps we have exchanged business cards, or maybe we are fellow members of the same association.
If you liked the newsletter please pass it on to other colleagues by using the Forward to a Friend link below . However if you found that the newsletter did not include anything of value for you please unsubscribe using the SafeUnsubscribe link also below.
To look at past newsletters please CLICK HERE
The theme of our next newsletter will be "More on Communication".
All the Best,
Barry Signature
Barry McMaster
Matrix Vision Pty Limited