This blog explains the way we manage our content and the reasoning behind our approach. Our aim is to provide a comprehensive organising framework / content taxonomy based on extensive research. This enables us to surface content in the flow of work for each individual or team. Beyond this we allow for an organization to customise for their context.
The aim in developing our topics was to cover a mutually exclusive and collectively exhaustive set of factors that affect teams. Our company mission is “Transforming Teamwork” and so everything we do is in the service of making the team unlock their collective performance and deliver value. Teams drive so much of the value in modern businesses. Teams are crucial units of performance for organizations to flourish and indeed survive. Our review of the factors that affect teamwork included a combination of approaches.
- A deep dive review of the academic research into teamwork.
- An ongoing review of the seminal management literature on teamwork.
- Collaboration with many of the leading academics and team coaches in the world.
In order to provide an exhaustive view of the factors that affect teams it’s important to take a broad, systemic view of what team success involves. For example, the relationship of a team with key stakeholders is fundamental to success. Let’s take a couple of examples:
- The relationship of a leader and team. Too often leadership and team development are considered entirely independently. But as research indicates leadership and teamwork are “two sides of the same coin”. Whilst a leader does more than lead a team, leading a team is core to their success.
- The relationship between teams. The relationship between teams is critical for team and organisational success. If team success is defined only within the team this can lead to silo mentality. The ultimate aim is to create a “team of teams” that cooperate.
In our desire to create mutually exclusive topics we have settled upon two organizing frameworks. One more skills based and the other more driven by the evolution of the team through a lifecycle. By organising around skills and team timelines we are able to capture all the factors that have shown to be important for team success. This is true across a wide range of team contexts.
The challenges and solutions in teams are highly interrelated. So a teamwork skill of good listening shows up in many disciplines of effective teaming including, handling conflict or difficult conversations, delivering and receiving feedback, developing team cohesion. Therefore, these underlying building block topics can be re-formatted and reused in many ways.
Teamwork skills are general skills for effective teaming. They show up consistently in the models of effective teams that we have reviewed. The descriptors are adjectives that could be relevant to an individual and a team as they develop a team.
Moments That Matter
These are activity based. They relate to activities that the team takes (or doesn’t) take through stages of the team lifecycle. These are broadly arranged across Tuckman’s stages of a team lifecycle: forming, storming, norming, performing and adjourning.
Within each topic we have material available that helps, as we say, both “learning and doing”. On the learning side we have courses, long reads (deep dives with reference to research) and short reads (quick synopsis and takeaways). On the doing side (applying the learning as you work) we have exercises, interactive exercises and techniques. This organising framework of teamwork skills and moments that matter enables us to provide a comprehensive set of building blocks that can be surfaced in a range of ways.
Taxonomy & Surfacing Content In The Flow Of Work
One of the advantages of having a consistent underlying taxonomy is that we are able to surface content in a number of situations in a timely way. For example:
- We can surface content on completion of a team diagnostic that’s relevant to the challenge you’ve identified
- We can surface content relevant to a meeting agenda that you’ve created using Machine Learning to identify what it is you want to talk about and link it to our taxonomy
- We can embed practical exercises and techniques in a Saberr course or long read that helps close the gap between learning and doing.
Organisations are keen to leverage our content and apply a level of customisation to their specific context. The only constraints on customisation relate to maintaining an underlying taxonomy and content architecture so we can surface content that’s context relevant. We’ve worked hard over years to ensure that we "join the dots".
However, we can customise and surface content relevant to a particular organisation in a number of ways.
Administrator & New Content
An administrator can add new reads for each topic if desired. They can do this simply from the admin panel and this can include a long read, a short read or an exercise if desired. It's possible to embed video, audio and links to other materials.
We typically create custom topics at the top of our content library that is bespoke for that organisation. These can leverage the building blocks as much as desired or introduce new content as necessary.
We are able to create custom surveys and link the underlying content to the survey results. For example, if you wanted to set up a new team effectiveness model based that would be possible and we’d then join the survey categories with underlying topics in our taxonomy. We’d need to review other changes case by case and be happy to advise on the level of complexity involved.
In summary we have consistent organising principles and evolving content. For example we are constantly exploring new techniques for bringing a teamwork skill to life. We develop new exercises to manage a “moment that matters” effectively. We co-create material with clients that are relevant to their context.
However, our underlying taxonomy changes very slowly and for all users. This only occurs when we find new skills or moments that matter that have universal application. This approach helps us to keep the dots joined up and surface content when it’s needed whilst providing flexibility to customise approaches for new contexts.