I receive a monthly newsletter from the HEATH BROTHERS that is always a great read! This month’s installment had some real gems about team effectiveness that resonated with so many of our principles, so I felt compelled to share!


  1. Set quiet hours. Think about the times when you’ve found it easiest to concentrate. You probably aren’t thinking of times when your phone was ringing, or when your neighbors were conversing loudly, or when your boss was visiting your desk bi-hourly with demands for “status updates.” Distractions matter. Distractions kill good work. So try this: Set aside a 4-hour block, one day a week, to be “quiet hours.” No talking; ringers off; no IMs; no desk visits. Just good old-fashioned silence.
  2. Stand up during meetings. Nobody schedules a “lunch hour” and then eats nonstop for the full hour, dropping his fork at the 60th minute, with no regard whatsoever to the amount of food consumed. Yet this is the way every meeting works. By default, a meeting consumes the time allotted to it. That’s crazy. Meetings should last as long as they need to last, and not a moment longer. Yet there is no force pushing for that outcome! So add a force: Make people stand up during your meetings. Now you’ve given your team a powerful incentive to be efficient. The military and software developers have already embraced this approach. Be next.
  3. Bake in bright spots. We know from psychology that people focus instinctively on problems. Meetings are often dominated by problem-solving (or, less charitably, frustration-airing). By indulging that instinct to dwell on problems, we miss a chance to analyze what IS working. (That’s a philosophy we call “finding the bright spots .”) To correct this bias, some groups (in organizations ranging from Jack in the Box to Kaiser Permanente) are now starting their meetings with a discussion of bright spots. To try it, start your next meeting with this question: “Since the last time we met, what has worked well, and how can we do more of it?” Not only will you harvest lots of great ideas, you’ll create a more positive tone for the meeting.
  4. Change the way you brainstorm. In most brainstorming session, the “talkers” in the group will share a few ideas, and then others will chime in with refinements of those initial ideas (rather than introducing a radically different point of departure). The effect is that, within 10 minutes, the group has shut down 99% of the potential conversation paths. One easy way to correct for this is to have every member of the team brainstorm privately and record their thoughts prior to the meeting. Then, start the meeting by asking people to share their ideas before the group discussion begins. That way, you can be more confident that you’ve charted more of the “landscape of ideas,” rather than simply building on the (possibly misguided) ideas of the group’s loudest members.

Leap of the Week: At your next team huddle, apply one of these methodologies. Over time give each of them a try, but for now, test drive a single one and measure the results. Let us know what differences you noticed. Just comment below the post and spark a conversation!

For more information about the Heath Brothers, visit their website at www.heathbrothers.com