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Tech#04: Assessing team culture and required behavior changes

Identifying Critical Team Behavior Changes

Step 1 - Identify the current member experience of Teams - "OldTeam"

Step 2 - Identify the required approach to Teams for this project to succeed - "NewTeam"

Step 3 - Establish Most Critical Team Behavior Challenges

Step 4 - Establish Priority Team Behavior Changes

All references are to a team behaviour change spreadsheet.

This technique uses "Cultural Polarity" based on international best practice in categorising different business cultures with specific extensions for teams.

This technique will also identify if conflicting dominant sub-cultures exist within a team.

Step 1 - Identify the current member experience of Teams - "OldTeam"

Using the "Cultural Polarities" defined below with specific extensions for teams

Record this in the Old Team Column (1-6)

Step 2 - Identify the required approach to Teams for this project to succeed - "NewTeam"

Record this in the New Team Column (1-6)

Step 3 - Establish Priority Team Behavior Challenges

Note the Variance (ie the difference between Old Team and New Team Cultural Polarity)

Assess the Outcome Impact (3=High, 2=Medium, 1=Low)

Estimate the Change Difficulty (3=High, 2=Medium, 1=Low)

Calculate the Overall Composite Risk (Variance * Outcome Impact * Change Difficulty)

Maximum score here is 81 but any score over 8 (2*2*2) needs carefully looked at

Step 4 - Establish Priority Team Behavior Changes

For the priority areas (3 max)

Identify the key team behaviour changes

Establish whether the change is so big that an interim bridge practice is required

Cultural Polarity - The key areas

18 “Polarities” which categorise a Business Culture

From the “Cross-Cultural Business Pocketbook” by John Mattock and based on work by Edward Hall, Geert Hofstede, Terence Brake, John Mole, Fons Trompenaars and Richard Lewis

Perception & Cognition


Decisive - we control our lives, make free choices, anticipate consequences

Submissive - our destinies are dictated by our god(s), fate or environment


Theoretical - ideas are more useful within an orthodox conceptual framework

Pragmatic - its OK to meet phenomena case by case, learning by experience


Universal – some ideas/concepts are absolute and can be applied in all situations

Circumstantial – theories are interpreted in the with common sense/human need


Loose Time – deadlines are only guidelines – they won’t mind waiting a bit longer

Tight Time – delay equals failure: “This project must run to schedule or else…..”


Multiple Event – clever people handle several ideas at once: the art of juggling

Single Event – One at a time to avoid confusion: interruptions/distractions are bad


Quick Results – mechanistic/impatient; actions now should bring satisfaction soon

Big Picture – holistic/patient; we think and act in the broad context of past and future

Self & Society


Outgoing/Informal – our circle of acquaintance is wide and flexible – we do not harbour secrets

Private/Reserved – we share our inner thoughts only with close friends and family


Personal Fulfilment – encouragement and reward for individual talent and initiative

Loyalty to the Tribe – duties are fixed by tradition, autocratic leaders or team needs


Prescriptive – rules of conduct must not be bent – society suffers if they are

Flexible – sometimes we can ignore laws; respect your conscience and friends


Doing & Measuring – high status goes with performance and achievement

Being & Feeling – living life well is the greatest achievement; work is only part of it


Relationship – “if we get on well, the work will be pleasant and fruitful”

Task – “if we can do a good job together, we might get closer as people”


Cooperation/Consensus – decisions by group synergy can be smoothly implemented

Competition/Conflict – forceful advocacy defeats opposition and brings success

Decisions & Communication


Suggestion – “I’m sure you’ll get the gist of my idea without tedious over-explanation”

Statement – “We’ll both be more comfortable if I spell this out to avoid ambiguity”


Contextual – plenty of background information helps us to understand things better

Direct – we move directly to the proposal, handling context questions later


Emotional – few inhibitions about expressing joy, anger, fear, passion, regret ….

Contained – embarrassment and friction can come from displays of emotion


Avoiding Risk – beware precedents/consequences; Look before you leap

Embracing Risk – seize every opportunity without dithering; who dares wins


Hierarchical – good organisation requires clear direction from above

Democratic – power is distributed; everybody contributes to decisions


Merit – respect is given to those who have earned it – leaders included

Standing – respect goes to those with of right age/grade/class/qualifications


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