Team of Equals in Action

The Achievement Process enables a group of people to become an effective Team of Equals and to find the answers they need together.

Case Study 1 Fast Track to the Answer

A group of highly qualified and experienced rail engineers used the Achievement Process (TAP) to find opportunities to make a significant difference (a breakthrough) to their performance.  Using TAP the group identified that one of their biggest problems was their failure to prepare properly for meetings – both internally and meetings with the customer.  Solving this problem would save significant amounts of time and improve the outcomes with customers which would help them win more business.

Their first solution was to resolve that in future they would all “try really hard” to prepare for meetings and all were agreed that this was what they must do.  We pointed out that their TAP profiles showed that not a single member of this group had a sustainable preference for the Planning stage of the process.  Using TAP to test the feasibility of their “must try harder” solution they came to realise that this was unlikely to work.  They also realised that the problem was not that they did not prepare for meetings.  This was simply the manifestation of the root cause, the complete lack of Planning preference in the group.

So re-starting from the beginning they concluded they needed to bring someone in who would help them overcome their meeting preparation obstacle.  They identified another member of a staff who they believed could help them and they approached this person and their line manager to ask for assistance.  Their proposal was approved and the person was able to make some time available to help them.  Within three months meeting preparation was going smoothly, lots of time had been saved as a result and customer meetings in particular were much more productive, with more new business opportunities being offered in the discussions. Eventually around £30m of extra business was attributed to the changes this group made to how they worked together and with the customer.

TAP helped this group learn that, although each of them did not know the answer, working together as a Team of Equals, they could find it.  Because they had all found the answer they were all happy to implement it.  They had come to understand that no individual contribution is more valuable than any other, it is the whole that delivers the value.

Case Study 2 Management Succession

A manufacturing company had seconded an experienced departmental manager to set up an overseas subsidiary.  This manager had 3 direct reports who, whilst technically competent had little management experience.  The department also needed to achieve a step change in performance to respond effectively to changes being implemented across the whole business.

The question was who should be appointed as departmental manager, both to manage the department and to drive through the changes.  No suitable person was available from elsewhere in the company and they were reluctant to hire from outside due to the specialised nature of their products and processes.  One of the direct reports showed potential but was it too early to risk putting a promising, but inexperienced person in charge?

The Ops Director asked us to help.  We proposed a team development process based on the Achievement Process (TAP) using Team of Equals principles.  The purpose was to develop the strategy and plan for the changes and to recommend a management structure for the department.  We started with an Achievement Profile for each of the three team members.  From this they quickly understood their individual preferred ways of working AND how the team would work together, including deciding how to handle the stages and steps in the process they had no preference for.  Next they applied TAP to the development of the strategy and plan for the department and the future management structure.

Then came the first surprise.  Instead of one single departmental leader/manager the team decided they had worked so well together they could manage the department as a team.  They presented their recommendations to senior management and, after some tough questioning from the Ops Director, were given the go-ahead.  The plans were implemented and proved successful.  Then came the second surprise.

About nine months later the team decided they did need one person in the leadership role for the department and that “leadership” was what the position of departmental manager was really all about.  They all agreed that the person who senior management had believed had management potential should take this role and the other two were happy to be his direct reports.  The appointment was made and proved successful.

We say surprise and although the specific outcomes were surprising the fact that this team found and delivered solutions that worked was not.  They had become an effective Team of Equals using a logical process (TAP) to find and implement solutions that worked for them and delivered for the business.  They came to trust the process and each other to deliver the answers when they needed them.