ToT learnings from the South

Argentina and South Cone

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Daniela Kreimer

How do you define a Team of Teams (this isn’t a test!)? What is an example of one that you have experienced or seen?

A solid and powerful ToT is composed of professionals who are experts in different fields and have experienced working in different sectors. Diversity of ages is also a good factor for the team to have different perspectives of seeing and experiencing the world. Geographical dispersion can be good although ToT members should be able to meet personally on regular basis.

TEAM COMPOSITION: Are there any specific roles and/or attributes that you believe are necessary for an effective Team of Teams?

EACH abilities are key attributes that ToT members should have to be successful. Empathy between team members is essential for a fluid communication, a new horizontal leadership is key to be efficient in decision making and changemaking accelerates ToT impact and performance. It is important for a good start of ToT to have a consensus on guiding principles and values of the team. From the very beginning, I recommend to draft a document together, in which common values are expressed and shared. This document will be useful to guide individual actions and difficult moments and discussion among team members. Everyone in the team should sign this document. Another key component of a ToT is to have one of the teams to be the architect of the ToT. The architect team coordinates the teams, agendas, objectives, etc. The architect is the guardian of the ToT vision and system change. Ashoka could play the role of ToT architects. System and collective leadership are strategic.

TEAM COMPOSITION: Please share any challenges you've experienced related to putting together a Team of Teams. How have you overcome these challenges?

One of the greatest challenges of ToT is Ego management, that is for everyone to be open to other team members´ ideas. Humility is a value that must be practised. This requires a continuous personal exercise. Dialogue is time consuming but very important to collective decision making. It is key to have a talk moderator that tracks the time, talking turns and ensures an output for each discussion. Another challenge is overcoming old solutions known and dear to team members in order to create together new solutions to solve new challenges.

TEAM COMPOSITION: Are there any successful approaches to creating a strong team that you would like to share?

Creating confidence in the most important ingredient for a successful ToT. Successful collaboration is based on trust between people. To foster a trustful atmosphere, non working spaces should be created for people to know more about each other, to have fun, laugh and share relaxing moments together. These spaces will deepen humans relationship and create solid bases to build trust between team members. First being, then doing.

GOAL SETTING: In previous Team of Teams efforts, please share any challenges in either setting or achieving project goals. How have you overcome these challenges?

Goal setting is a collective construction. It is one of the first actions that should be done when starting a ToT. Having multidisciplinary profiles should help to assess goals to specific teams. Knowing each member´s expertise will help with an effective tasks distribution.

FINANCIAL SUSTAINABILITY: Do you have a successful approach for ensuring financial sustainability of Team of Teams projects?

ToT budgets should be transparent to every member. Each team should have a specific budget to spend. Expert hours should be rated according to expertise and seniority. An administration and travel allowance budget should be set up for each team. All expenses should be shared in a common excel sheet. Each team organization should earn a special fee for their specific knowhow.

COMMUNICATION: Please share any successful approaches to communicating across a Team of Teams:

Effective communication is a key ingredient for a successful ToT. It is important to set up from the very beginning communication channels that every team member should use. A common whatsapp group, Slack, google group email and skype are some useful tools. A shared glossary of common terms used by the ToT helps to ensure communication. It is important at some point for every member to share their own opinion and personal interest regarding the shared project. Communication between teams will safeguard the ToT health and harmony. The architect team must ensure periodic spaces for communication between teams.

DECISION-MAKING: Do you have a successful approach related to decision-making within Team of Teams?

Decisions should be taken at a round table meeting where each team member should have the chance to express his own opinion. This will empower team members and accelerate decision making. Shared values, common objectives and regular meetings help to empower ToT members.

REWARDS & INCENTIVES: Please share any ideas for incentives or rewards that would compel you to participate further in Team of Teams projects:

Travelling abroad, learning from other groups, sharing other people´s initiatives and applying them to our own projects. Being part of other organizations besides your own and having workmates from other countries and nationalities can be very stimulating.

TIME MANAGEMENT & PRIORITY SETTING: Have you experienced any challenges balancing Team of Teams work with your day-to-day tasks?

When starting a ToT each team and its members should state the amount of hours/days that will be used for the project. A shared excel with scheduled vacations and holidays could be useful to organize time. It can be useful to create teams to divide work focusing on specific objectives of the project. Priorities should be shared and clear for every team.

Is there anything else related to Team of Teams you would like to share?

Working with others could be more uncomfortable than working alone. It is a good exercise to share your time and efforts with others even if this means feeling uncomfortable. Taking risks within the ToT is essential. Every team must have the same amount of risk. No one knowledge or skill is more important than the other. Every one or two months it would be convenient to invite someone external to the ToT to share and discuss ideas. It could be refreshing and enlightning for the ToT.


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