Innovation is a team sport. Few actually get this. Fewer still ever take the time to learn how to do it well.

You can hire a team full of all-stars, the best and brightest in their respective fields. But if they can't figure out how to actually do the real work together –how to ask hard questions and challenge their thinking and learn together– it does not matter.

The best they'll do is.. exactly what you tell them to do, through sheer force of will, and nothing more. This is a huge waste of potential. It's also the status quo of what gets called teamwork today. Unbelievable amounts of time and money are spent waiting for dysfunctional team dynamics to just sort of work themselves out.

In the meantime...

  The loudest voices (not the best ideas) dominate the creative process.

  Brainstorming spirals into debates, arguments, or political maneuvers.

  Teams talk in circles and get lost in their ideas without a path forward.

This sort of dysfunction is so common that most people just assume it's a fact of life and will always be this way.

One of my favorite parts of leading teams through Design Sprints and Strategy Sprints is what I've dubbed the Monday Morning Epiphany.

The Monday Morning Epiphany is the first "OMG" moment of the sprint, when the team realizes two things:

  1. How far ahead of the game they are, after just a few hours
  2. How good it feels to work this way

How good does it feel?

It feels like intercepting the ball and running it back 40 yards. Like catching a fresh gust of wind in your sails on a hot day of flat seas. Like the smell of approaching rain after months of drought. It's the moment of realization that the energy is finally starting to shift in your favor.

The Monday Morning Epiphany is usually accompanied by someone saying, "we should do this all the time!"

Design Sprints and Strategy Sprints create the conditions for teams to do exceptional work together in a very short amount of time, without all the noise and nonsense of an outdated, brute-force style of teamwork.

The facilitator decides who should speak, when they should speak, and for how long, while ensuring that speakers stay on topic. This keeps things moving forward without allowing free-for-all discussions to derail or overload the session.

Everything that can be visualized, should be visualized. Excessive or dense information becomes readable, scannable snapshots that can be reviewed at any time. This offloads the cognitive burden of simply keeping up with the flow of the session.

Ideas and concepts are created individually, and then brought into the group process in any number of ways. This has several benefits:

  • Reduces the potential for idea contamination and groupthink
  • Creates space for more introverted members to share ideas and concepts that they might not otherwise have a chance to contribute
  • Tempers challenging power dynamics and personalities

Sprints always have a designated decider, and always result in clear decisions. This helps bring exercises and topics to a point of completion, and allowing the team to move forward with closure and clarity.

Sprint exercises are time-boxed and carefully coordinated with plenty of breaks in between. This ensures the team is able to get everything done on time, while feeling fresh and focused throughout.

These 5 simple principles are foundational building blocks for effective, high-impact teamwork. They can be infused into everyday team meetings, like kickoffs and retros, and are just as impactful for remote teams as they are in-person.

If you're interested in putting these principles to work and need some ideas for how to get started, or if you would like to learn more about sprinting with Hypervibrant, book a free discovery call.