by Lou Russell

November 20, 2017

2017 December Learning Flash: CLARITY

There is no job or project that can be done by a single person. One of the biggest challenges this year is to figure out how to get multitasking, stressed people to collaborate. CLARITY of roles and behaviors is critical to strong teams. This reminds me of a speaker named Pat Murray, whose ideas about team behavior continue to make an impact on me. Here are three thoughts about how people subtly hinder collaboration:

  • Implying truth that doesn’t exist - any information which cannot be immediately backed up with concrete evidence is probably a lie.
  • Focus on the What If disasters - people will fight harder to prevent LOSS than for potential GAIN.
  • Opinion hiding - confrontation is required to search for truth although keeping civil is helpful if you want someone to listen.


This is how I interpreted Pat’s three-step process to help people work together in my book Managing Projects

  1. Create a compelling vision that touches emotions. Consider creating a tagline to rally the troops.
  2. Create a ‘burning platform’. People will rarely trade familiar pain for unfamiliar pain which is usually where you want them to go. Scare them with facts that send a clear message of urgency. Don’t allow dependency on you as a leader. Work back from the future together.
  3. Create a logical approach for how to get from A to B. In the absence of process and information, people make up crazy bad stuff.


Here are some additional points to improve team alignment:

  • Don’t tolerate the behavior you don’t want. Drive accountability. Expect people to follow the rules and communicate.
  • Learn how to onboard and outboard new people quickly.
  • Bring the real issues up when they occur – no meeting after the meeting.
  • Value each member with your heart and your intentional behavior. 


​Demand that each member copes with stress and discontent openly. Help each other through good and bad times.

Lou Russell

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