Curated by: Luigi Canali De Rossi

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

How Do I Motivate My Team? The Three-Step Turbocharging Method

It is far too easy for teams to lose focus in today's fast paced collaborative virtual workplace. When your team starts falling behind and can no longer see just how mission critical their work is to the project, it is time for you to help the team focus, and in turn, turbo-charge their effectiveness.

Photo credit: Jón Helgason

Ken Thompson, bioteaming expert and author of the breakthrough Manifesto on effective collaboration, explains how you can quickly motivate your team in the right direction in three simple steps:

  1. Summarize your team's situation on a project to bring forward 4 key areas of focus.
  2. Present the consequences and brainstorm possible solutions if any of those four key areas changed significantly, suffered major losses, or failed altogether.
  3. Create and implement a plan that would prove most beneficial to the success of your team-driven project.

Here are these three steps explained, so you too can start turbo-charging your team today:

Intro by Patricia Mayo




The Organizational Team Turbocharger Tool

Photo credit: Piotr Bizior

by Ken Thompson

Here is a brilliantly simple technique, which I call The 4 Team Stressors, for waking a team up to some serious problems which, in the pressures of work, it has somehow managed to totally ignore and which might just sink it!

Step 1 - Quickly Describe Your Project According to the 4 Dimensions

Photo credit: Matthew Parson

In as few words as possible define the project in terms of:

  1. The Timeline (Stressor 1)
  2. The Team (Stressor 2)
  3. The Main Deliverable (Stressor 3)
  4. The Importance of the Deliverable to the Enterprise (Stressor 4)

If you cannot do this quickly its a sure sign that something is wrong - you would not have much confidence in a sports team where the players in the locker room could not agree on the goal before a big match.

Step 2 - Now Stress the Team in Each of the 4 Dimensions

Photo credit: Craig Jewell

This is best done as a team exercise with the selected action decided by a vote but it can also be used privately by the team leader(s) as an on-going sanity check.

Stressor 1 - Time
What would you do if your delivery deadline was brought forward significantly - e.g. 6 months becomes 3 months? Restrict it to one proposed action only.

Stressor 2 - Resources
What would you do if in your resources were significantly cut - assume each team member is now only available half of the time they were before? Restrict it to one proposed action only.

Stressor 3 - Scope
What would you do if you had to deliver twice as much as originally planned? Restrict it to one proposed action only.

Stressor 4 - Consequences
Finally what would you do if failure to meet the new deadline, with the new resources and new scope was absolutely business critical. For example, the organisation closes and the team members all lose their jobs? Restrict it to one proposed action only.

Step 3 - Finally Decide Which Stressor Actions to Implement NOW


Now review the 4 proposed actions and for each one ask the question:

"Is there a compelling reason why we should not do this NOW for the current team situation?"

In my experience applying the 4 stressors will result in actions such as:

  • Stressor 1 - Meet with the team's customer to understand what is most important to them and negotiate the rest out of scope.
  • Stressor 2 - Have a short daily structured team meeting by phone - totally focused.
  • Stressor 3 - Have a no BS conversation with every team member to ensure they are clear and committed to what needs done and that all barriers to success they identify are removed.
  • Stressor 4 - Secure additional help outside the immediate project team - don't take no for an answer.

Originally written by by Ken Thompson and first published on October 1st 2005 as "Tech#17: Organizational Team Turbocharger Tool" on The Bumble Bees Top Collaboration Techniques Mini Site.

About the Author

Ken Thompson is a researcher, writer, and entrepreneur focusing on the world of high performance teams, and on the transfer of the best teaming practices from the biological world. He has published an interesting paper entitled "The Bioteaming Manifesto" which illustrates the basic principles of his vision. Ken publishes his best articles at and has a mini-site dedicated to collaboration techniques. For the last 10 years Ken has been an expert practitioner in the area of virtual enterprise
networks, virtual professional communities and virtual teams. Ken has just published a book entitled 'Bioteams: High Performance Teams Based on Nature's Best Designs.', available on Amazon as well.

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posted by Robin Good on Wednesday, February 20 2008, updated on Tuesday, May 5 2015

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.




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