Hundreds of teams have experienced Teamology and witnessed The Power of Polarities.
Every team has a unique journey with unusual results, what will yours be?
To get an impression, below are four Case Studies.
DUTCH ORANGE TEAM WINS OLYMPIC GOLD
Two years before the 2012 London Olympics we were asked to facilitate the team development of the Dutch Women’s Field Hockey Team. It became a journey to the gold medal.
Of the team that had won a gold medal at the previous Olympics, most had retired. So a new team had to be built and just appointed coach Max Caldas and his staff were faced with a considerable challenge. This is the challenge that every team faces that has to make a fresh start: the Tuckman Stages of Team Development. Only through Storming and Norming does a team become Performing.
We started with creating awareness on "Why" the team and the individuals wanted to win a gold medal at the Olympics. A gold medal is a result and we needed to find a deeper motivation. What we discovered was that this team wanted to change the sport; they wanted to achieve unity, strength, and renewal every day.
We did evening sessions once every two months and in between the players and staff had homework assignments. They defined a common purpose, values and roles and responsibilities together. And they worked on their relationships and their role in the team through feedback sessions.
What was very useful were stress simulation games we played. The things that went wrong there were the same things that went wrong on the pitch. So we found ways of dealing with this so the team would only become stronger under stress, not weaker. This is the role stress should play: to be a change agent for higher performance. This team was able to use stress in this way.
The team also went on a survival retreat with Dutch army officers that helped them bond and become stronger individually and as a team.
At the Olympics, the team was one of the favorites to win the gold medal, together with Argentina and England. But favorites often fail… In the semi-finals, the team played an awesome New Zealand team. The team almost lost, but the belief, strength, and determination that they had built inside of them pulled them through. In the Olympic final they beat the bookmaker's favorite team, Argentina, by 2-0 to win the gold.
Through the work with the Dutch Women's Field Hockey team and other sports teams, Polarity has developed a methodology that helps any team to become high performing. Working with world-class athletes that get tested in competition every week has helped us to discover what works and what does not.Please contact us if you want to know more about our methodology for developing high performing teams.
Heineken has co-owned a large brewery in Sierra Leone since 1962. During the civil war (1991-2002) the brewery fell into the hands of looting rebels who seriously damaged the plant.
Postwar re-positioning of the local brand posed a major challenge and the brewery was on the brink of closure after suffering years of losses. In 2009 Heineken Holding NV became the sole owner of the brewery and the new managing director, Cor Honkoop, was asked to lead the turnaround process for the brewery.
In November of 2009, we conducted a team development workshop with the management team. It resulted in a new vision and strategy to turn the business around. The team wanted the brewery “To be an exemplary company contributing to the sustainable development of Sierra Leone by creating exceptional value to all stakeholders.” Considering the history of the country and the state of the brewery this was a bold vision to have.
Their commitment to this vision and their ability to work together made nothing less than a miracle happen. The turnaround was a success. Beer losses during production fell by 60%, energy use per liter dropped by 30% and water use per liter also went down by 40%. Sales increased 20% in volume in 2011, “the highest in 20 years” and the brewery's market share increased from 65% to 85% in a 3 year period. And most importantly, the brewery returned to consistently good profit levels.
In addition to this, the brewery launched a massive “Sorghum” production project. Sorghum is used to brew beer (instead of imported Barley). Heineken gave financial support and seedlings to farmers in various parts of the country to locally produce large quantities of Sorghum. For this initiative, Heineken received the World Business and Development (WBD) Award.
NXP Semiconductors Management Team
Many management teams consist of excellent people who focus mostly on their business responsibilities in the company and less on collaborating effectively as a management team.
But if a real change needs to happen and new markets need to be entered, or if the company becomes seriously challenged by a competitor, it becomes essential that the different disciplines in a company and their managers work together.
NXP Semiconductors provides innovative semiconductor solutions to a wide range of automotive, identification, wireless, lighting, industrial, mobile, consumer and computing applications. A global semiconductor company with operations in more than 25 countries, NXP posted revenue of $4.36 billion in 2012.
At NXP we had the privilege of working with both the management team focused on standard products and the team focused on the portable and computing markets.
The approach we used for both teams was the same, but the outcome was different. It was focused on the needs of their team and business unit.
Using personality profiles, the team started to understand themselves and their dynamic as a team much better. It also became clear what the different members of the team could contribute to a cohesive long-term plan for the business unit.
A key objective for NXP was to enable the great technology innovators around the globe to bring their dreams to life by providing them with practical solutions. Since Thomas Edison we know that vision without execution is a hallucination, and this is where NXP wants to make a difference. We also worked to create a tangible set of (short and long-term) goals, operating principles and roles to guide their common future.
One of the unique strengths of our approach is that we are able to bring people with very different (and very strong) personalities together to find and agree on a common focus in a very short time (in this case 2 days).
TEAM WINS FIVE CONSECUTIVE
The Dutch League is considered the Premier League in Field Hockey, a sport that is very popular in large parts of Europe and Asia. It is, in fact, the third most popular sport in the world, after soccer and cricket. To win the title five consecutive years in a play-off system is a unique record. How could this happen?
The HC Bloemendaal team was extremely talented. It had some of the world's best hockey players and former Olympic champions. But they had not won a national or European title in many years. Their main objective was to dominate the league again, as their club had done in the 90's.
For this purpose, we set to work and first analyzed the personalities of players and staff and started them working on personal goals. From there we made a plan on how to transform the weaknesses under stress into strengths. We helped them create a team that had a desire to be the best team ever, which believed not only that it would win, but that it deserved to win. The power of a team that feels it is the best and deserves to win is unbelievable.
The team would undergo sessions of about 3 hours during the season. These were some of the subjects that were covered:
Welcoming new members and getting to know them and their core qualities well
Giving and receiving feedback (both acknowledging and developmental feedback). After all, "Feedback is the breakfast of champions". Why? Because even if only 1% is true you can use it to improve yourself.
Define purpose and values and assess how well the team is doing in actually "living" it
Goal setting as a team (and understanding how the team can undermine or sabotage its goals)
Personal goal setting (how can I as an individual, giving my qualities, best contribute to the team's success)
Stress games to see what happens to the team under stress (it is remarkably similar to what happens in a game)
Preparation for important games with the coach
It is very clear from working with this team that individuals do not win championships, teams do. So the best team wins, not an assembly of the best players. What made this team special is that they had excellent players that could perform as a unity under high pressure and could win consistently at the moment of truth. Other teams who were equal or perhaps better in quality of individual players were never able to beat them in the finals of the play-offs for 5 consecutive years, a unique record.
In business, just like sports, it is ultimately the human factor that makes the difference. This means understanding and respecting each other and leveraging individual differences for the sake of a common purpose. Any team member that thinks he is more important than the team in any way undermines the team and sabotages its success.