A simple tool to help teams define themselves

So in every team training or coaching session I will at some point come to what I coined as The Team Journey. I found it to be a powerful, simple and yet complex puzzle piece to solve in any team formation phase. It is simple as it requires the team to agree on a simple narrative of their intended journey. Yet complex as the context in which teams operate have many dimensions, dependencies and stakeholders. A Team Journey helps you define your relationship to the dynamic context you as a team are operating in. I consider it to be extremely valuable and it has helped many teams find the clarity they sought. Through this article I am sharing it with you and hope it will help you and your teams in their endeavours.

For who is the Team Journey Canvas?

The canvas is great for anybody involved with self-steering teams or autonomous teams. Basically it helps teams that can set their own course and even destination. Often it is hard for the team itself to fill it in without the help of someone that supports them from the outside. So the people that actually introduce this canvas to teams are: team coaches, project managers, program managers, start-up mentors, innovation managers, digital transformation specialists, founders, designthinkers, VC’s and other roles that are supportive to the team.

When to use the Team Journey Canvas?

The canvas can be used anytime a team starts a project or when a new team is forming. It is the anchor that connects the team to their context and also defines the space in which it can find it’s freedom.

I designed this canvas to help teams really make some critical choices in how they relate and operate within their context. It is too often that I witness teams that indentify themselves by the “product” they are making. My experience is that this creates what I call “orphan teams”. They create products that are treated as hot potatoes once they have grown to a certain level of strength. It is unclear to whom the product belongs and to whom it should be given. It is like having a baby without a last name.

Another thing I often see is, that it is unclear for whom the team is working exactly. They often mix up the internal “customer” with the “external” customer, trying to please both. But is this project there to please a board of directors or is the team commited to help the customer that lives outside headquarters?

Without having these elements clear, teams tend to get stuck in a “cause and effect” loop instead of in an “means to an end” mentality. The team explains themselves in a lineair manner walking from the problem to the solution, ignoring the team’s mission and the uncomfortable exposed act they need to perform in order to be succesful as a team.

Get clear team roles through a Team Journey

Once a team journey is clear it sets into motion a process of role definition and collaboration. Many times when a team had unclear roles or it is unclear who needs to do what and when it is because of a still undefined team journey.

Feel free to experiment with the canvas in your team sessions. Please let me know your experiences when you using the canvas.

The canvas is available under the creative commons license and free to use. If you would like a hi-def PDF version of the Team Journey Canvas please fill in the form below.

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