Our Approach

From dysfunctional to functional teams and from good to exceptional teams

In its core organizations are in the business of solving problems:

  • Solving problems for customers: this is the “raison d’être” and where revenue comes from.
  • Solving problems internally: to make everything work smoothly.

The better this is done for customers, the more added value is delivered. The better this is done internally, the more efficient, effective and pleasant it is to cooperate.

The most important level to do this is the one of teams.

To raise their efficiency and effectiveness (in other words, to increase their problem solving abilities), small and large changes are implemented and change projects are set up. However, according to management consulting firm McKinsey 70% of those projects doesn’t reach their goals.

So, we are missing something.

What are we missing?

There are different reasons, but the two most important ones are:

  • The (in)ability to deal with tensions
  • Not taking the vibe of an individual or team into account

Tensions

There are three kinds of tensions:

  • Practical or process tension: e.g. no Internet access, meetings that go on for hours and drain energy, orders that are delivered too late or projects that go over time and budget.
  • Personal tension: e.g. not feeling able to do what is expected, low self-esteem, feeling resistance to change, dread giving presentations or getting stress because goals are not reached (e.g. a sales target or quit smoking).
  • Interpersonal tension: e.g. not getting along with a colleague, manager, customer or supplier; having conflicts with them or not feeling comfortable in their company.

Most people haven’t learned how to solve personal or interpersonal tensions. That’s why they pretend those tensions are not present. Or they vent these tensions in way that hurts others or pulls down their own self-esteem.

Practical tensions are also dealt with in a way that causes extra tension (often at another level). For example:

  • By blaming a colleague from the IT department when the Internet is down, an interpersonal tension is created.
  • By blindly following those that have the loudest voice, a solution is chosen that costs more time than necessary. This creates a practical tension because other tasks or projects are postponed and often also interpersonal tensions since the introverts were not asked to voice their solution, which could lead to a personal tension (e.g. not feeling worthy).

Vibes of an individual or a team

There are four vibes:

  • Negative: people complain, blame others and are defensive.
  • Neutral: the job gets done, but not much more.
  • Positive: people are enthusiastic and work towards goals, but the full potential is not reached yet.
  • Inspiring: there is a contagious excitement and focus on both results and well-being.

If people are not at least in the positive vibe, they are not ready to embrace change (yet) and really commit to the project or new way of working like agile or self-organizing teams.

When a change project is implemented or there is a transition to agile or self-organizing teams, two things usually happen:

  • The current vibe comes under pressure because extra tensions are added to the current situation.
  • Since most people don’t know how to adequately deal with tensions, the vibe goes down and it becomes even harder to implement the change.

Vibes, Tensions and Agile/Self-Organizing Teams

Since more and more organizations are in transition to agile or self-organizing teams, let’s give it a moment of our attention.

Real agile or self-organizing teams are situated in the inspiring vibe. However, the majority of the working population resides in the neutral vibe.

People in the neutral vibe are more concerned about protecting themselves than with committing themselves to new projects, initiatives or ways of working.

Most of those initiatives are initiated in the IT department where there is experience with processes (which help to solve practical tensions), but not with solving personal and interpersonal tensions.

Those are the two most overlooked reasons why initiatives regarding agile or self-organizing teams fail and even are abandoned.

Solution

The solution to make small and large changes succeed is twofold:

  • Being able to apply the right techniques to solve tensions. As a result the vibe increases. To assist you we have developed the D.U.E.T. process that includes those techniques.
  • Being able to facilitate this process in a way that no extra tensions are created. E.g. the command-and-control approach can solve a practical problem, but creates often interpersonal and personal tensions that outweigh the practical solution.
    What we have noticed is that the way of facilitating that works best is Compassionate Leadership.

Transforming tensions using the D.U.E.T. process

The four-step D.U.E.T. process consists of a set of short, but powerful techniques that are designed to transform the particular tension at hand and if necessary its roots.

These are the four steps:

  • Detect and face the tension.
  • Understand and solve the tension.
  • Embrace and transform the root of the tension.
  • Take action.

For all techniques there is special attention to:

  • Incorporating safety and security in order to avoid the creation of new tensions.
  • Short and powerful techniques that can be applied in any situation and are hence compatible with any business model.
  • Applicability for everybody (in other words, there is no need for a coaching background).

Of course, not all techniques have to applied in every case. It depends on the situation and the desired vibe transition (e.g. from neutral to positive vibe). However, for leaders and coaches it is helpful to know the whole toolkit and be able to increase the vibe in any situation (or at least make sure it doesn’t decrease).

On this page you can read which problems are solved by each of the techniques of the D.U.E.T. model and which results you can expect.

Facilitation: Compassionate Leadership

The way of facilitating change projects or solving tensions has a huge impact on the result. Together with the vibe of the facilitator.

We call the way of facilitating that produces the best results Compassionate Leadership.

Compassionate Leadership has many aspects. These are but a few of them:

  • Focus on offering both safety and support.
    • In the negative and neutral vibe this means creating a comfort zone.
    • In the positive and inspiring vibe this means challenging someone to leave their comfort zone.
  • Make a distinction between role and human being:
    • Difference in role or function
    • Equivalent as human beings
  • Don’t adopt the emotions of other people and don’t project your own emotions on them.

Our definition of Compassionate Leadership is:

“The ability to take yourself, individuals, teams and organizations

to a higher level of performance and well-being (= a higher vibe)

in a safe and stimulating way when tensions occur.”

So, it is not a new style of leadership that replaces other styles, but a dimension that is added. The leadership style that is most open for it, is “servant leadership”. By the way, this is the style that is pursued in most agile and self-organizing teams.

Or what we sometimes say: Compassionate Leadership ensures that no extra tensions are created while solving one.

This means that the leader, (agile) coach, scrum master or other facilitator knows how to deal with tensions and that their own vibe is high enough. We have developed some training and development programs to assist people in getting there (see below: Formats).

Result

The result of being able to apply the techniques from the D.U.E.T. process to solve tensions as a Compassionate Leader is that the vibe rises. This means:

  • Faster problem solving
  • Increased productivity, efficiency and effectivity
  • Faster spotting of opportunities
  • Increased cooperation
  • Co-workers love to come to work
  • Attracting and keeping top talent (despite lower wages or less benefits)
  • More openness to change
  • Better atmosphere

Formats

To get this result we offer several formats.

Individual

(Leader, Coach, Co-Worker)

Team
Training

The techniques are taught following a structured approach.

Raise the Vibe Program with all the techniques from the D.U.E.T. process.

Workshops regarding one or more techniques from the D.U.E.T. process.

Development

Participants grow as human beings / as a team following a specific growth path.

Compassionate Leader ProgramTeam Program
Coaching

The situation at hand determines the intervention.

E.g. is it about raising the vibe or avoiding it to drop?
And which tension is it actually about?

Individual coachingTeam coaching

Vibe Assessment

If it is about teams, a good start is to conduct a Team Vibe Assessment. The result is an overview of both the vibes of the individual team members inclusive the leader and the vibe of the team as a whole; and what the appropriate format(s) is/are.

Next Step

Since you now have an idea of the general framework of our approach, you know that there are different ways we can support you and your organization.

These are possible next steps:

  • As a leader or coach you can register for an open Compassionate Leader & Facilitator Experience, Raise the Vibe Program or Compassionate Leader Programma (see calendar) or get in touch for personal coaching.
  • When you want team coaching, set up an in-company training or development program or need a speaker for your event, get in touch.

We look forward to meeting you!

Jan Vermeiren and the Compassionate Leader team