Systems work – whether coaching or leading – is about developing more awareness and intention of what’s emerging within and between systems, and so a greater capacity to act from collective intelligence. Coaching a system to gain more awareness and intention in how it is and wants to be together develops a collective capacity to work with emergence. The Designed Team Alliance offers a powerful way to consciously consider atmosphere, responsibility and accountability in a system.
This is a foundational tool in Organization and Relationship Systems Coaching (ORSC™). However, without reflective practice the design can become stale.
Keep in mind that while the Designed Team Alliance is presented as a tool with specific steps, it is also a process. Effective Designed Team Alliances are living documents which evolve according to the needs of the system.
In maintaining an awareness of their alliance, teammates can intentionally challenge each other to remain individually responsible and collectively accountable for what is co-created in their relationship.
Here are a few suggestions on how to keep the Designed Team Alliance alive.
Make the Designed Team Alliance visible
A Designed Team Alliance cannot serve your team if it is created once and then forgotten. It is a tangible outline of your organizational values and priorities, so keep it front and centre.
Tip 1 | Keep your Designed Team Alliance in a place where it is easily and regularly seen.
Display it on a screen saver, whiteboard, chalkboard or flip chart.
Tip 2 | Write a manifesto or extrapolate values from your DTA.
Use these points to create a poster, picture board, or Values Wheel. Print and post your creation, so that it becomes a fixture of the team’s workspace.
Add the Designed Team Alliance to your culture
With a little thought, you can find ways to make the DTA an active element in the way your team operates.
Tip 3 | Open with the Designed Team Alliance.
As you begin a meeting, project or initiative, ask the host or project lead to share one aspect of the DTA to honour throughout, and to explain why. An alternative is to involve all team members in the conversation, asking them to share which aspect they will champion.
Tip 4 | Touch on the Designed Team Alliance as you conclude.
As meetings or projects close, ask the team to acknowledge one element of the DTA which was evident in your collaboration, and one that might have served the work even more, and can be amplified next time.
Tip 5 | Choose a song that represents the Designed Team Alliance.
Play it at the beginning and end of gatherings.
Tip 6 | Find alternate ways to feel, see, hear and sense into the Designed Team Alliance.
What is a gesture or stance for what you want more of in this alliance? What is a metaphor which fits with who you are being at the moment?
Tip 7 | Share stories of where Designed Team Alliance has come alive for and been honoured by teams.
Include these stories in your monthly meetings, newsletters, and in other communications.
Revisit the Designed Team Alliance regularly
Make a practice of regularly reviewing your Designed Team Alliance to consider what might need adjustment.
Tip 8 | Rate your level of success.
Ask team members – “On a scale of 0-10, with 0 being not honouring at all and 10 being fully honouring, how much are we acting in accordance with our team alliance?” With that information in hand, what behaviour is needed to move one step closer to fully honouring the DTA?
Tip 9 | Regularly discuss what the team wants to keep, delete or add to the Designed Team Alliance.
What do you want to amp up? What might be missing? What are team members longing for, which they might take upon themselves to bring?
Tip 10 | Remember that the Designed Team Alliance is not static.
You are free to update your agreements, values and rituals at any time. This is especially valuable when team members enter or exit the system, or when a major change is underway.
The Designed Team Alliance serves us best when we think of it as a prism. By focusing in on a particular facet, you catch and reflect the light within your system. As a coach and leader, what facet you are focusing on?
Professional coaching supervision supports coaches and leaders to develop their capacity for reflective practice in the moment, so that we can work with whatever emerges in the system. Where are you catching and reflecting the light within your internal system?
As director of Novalda,Kerry Woodcockdevelops core, collective and change leadership capacity in leaders, teams and organizations.