and Tactical Planning
and Team Facilitation
Partnerships Between Teams
the Work Environment
and Tactical Planning
an ideal world, the future is clear, all in the organization understand
what to do to achieve the future, and there are no unanticipated obstacles
that could impact your ability to accomplish your goals.
can achieve this ideal world by making a concerted effort to define
- Engage the organization
in visualizing this future.
- Analyze your environment
to anticipate the risks, obstacles, and threats facing you.
- Launch and sustain the initiatives
that will realize the future.
Whether you anticipate major
strategic changes or incremental improvements, a well-defined plan will
increase your probability of success.
"Mel immediately grasped what the situation required and quickly
internalized the purpose and goals
of ACO. She was masterful at involving everyone and achieving buy-in. Mel
kept us on task and worked us through the difficult spots."
-- Faye Flack, Aid for College Opportunity
The Acorn Planning Process
is collaborative, concrete, and tailored to your unique needs. All decision-makers
will be engaged, and the resulting plans will be specific and actionable.
The planning process consists of three steps:
- Research and Analysis
- work with organization members to develop a comprehensive assessment
of the organization's current reality and future possibilities.
- Plan Development
- bring the decision-makers together to evaluate the possibilities.
Working together, define the goals, objectives, strategies, actions,
measures, and skills that will enable you to achieve the ideal future.
- Implementation -
work with organization members to assess and manage risks, identify
needed changes, and ensure understanding and support from all. Prepare
your organization to monitor progress and take corrective actions as
plans miscarry because they have no aim.
When a man does not know
what harbor he is making for,
no wind is the right wind."
-- Seneca the Younger, Roman statesman
is more than just getting along with your teammates. It requires true
- The ability to work together
towards a shared goal;
- Clarity on the roles and
responsibilities of each team member;
- The ability to capitalize
on the strengths and abilities of all;
- Clarity on how the
work will be done;
- A willingness to trust
Collaborative teams can solve
problems effectively, deal with the inevitable conflict that arises; and,
most importantly, they can accomplish their goals.
This workshop provides teams
the opportunity to define a new and more effective way to work together
- to create collaboration. New teams can begin with great practices while
existing teams can be revitalized.
"Thanks for an outstanding job. The team all wished that
there had been more time to apply
what you were teaching. I look forward to working with
-- Anna Marie Metzgar, NCR Corporation
How it Works
This highly participatory workshop
is designed for the whole team to attend. It moves the team members through
the stages of team development starting with "Who am I?" and
"Who are you?" through "Why are we together?" and
ending with "How will we work together to achieve our goals?"
Exercises are used throughout
the session to foster communication, to enable agreements, and to stimulate
The workshop is customized
for each team. Content can include:
The Diversity of Thinking
Introductory exercise to promote communication between participants and
to introduce the concept of differences in people and how they approach
What is collaboration?
Lecture, exercise, and discussion on collaboration and teamwork; success
factors and obstacles to team success.
Team Objectives and Actions
work session to develop team purpose, objectives, measures, and actions.
Team answers the following
- Why do we (this team) exist?
- If we are outstandingly
successful, what will we accomplish? [team objectives]
- How will we know when we
have accomplished it? [team measures]
- What do we have to do to
accomplish this? [high level actions]
Roles and Responsibilities
Define what roles are
and what responsibilities are. Work session to define and identify the various
roles, responsibilities, and skills of each team member.
Tips for Talking and Listening
Lecture and exercise on effective communication concepts and techniques.
Topics include communicating with the intent of understanding versus communicating
with the intent of advocating; accepting ideas from others; and coaching
Introduce different approaches to making decisions and the different times/situations
when each is appropriate.
Work session to define how team wants to make decisions (when each type of
decision making will be appropriate) and how to ensure decisions are made
in accordance with this agreement (ex: how to ensure that consensus decisions
are truly consensus).
Introduce a simple collaborative problem solving model. Practice using
the model with a problem facing the team.
Work session to define how the team will work together to achieve the agreed to goals.
This includes such things as meetings, solving problems, informing others
of issues or changes, etc.
Team Member Strengths
Exercise to provide each person an opportunity to identify the strengths
in the fellow team members.
"In the world today, there's plenty of technology, plenty of
entrepreneurs, plenty of money, plenty of venture capital. What's
in short supply is great teams. Your biggest challenge will be building
a great team. Team wins."
-- John Doerr, Venture Capitalist
Fast Company, February-March 1997
and Team Facilitation
Meetings! You spend
hours in them, and often believe that little is accomplished. They are
the bane of today's business, but they are also necessary. They should
ensure shared understanding of tasks and accomplishments; they should
foster collaboration; they should help you solve problems that cross organizational
"Just a quick note to say thanks for all your help with the
recent meeting in Atlanta. It was a
tough group and an even tougher subject matter. Your expertise in
planning the meeting, facilitation
skills during the meeting, and follow-up after the meeting clearly
made the difference. Thanks
again and I look forward to working with you soon."
-- Fred Herold, NCR Corporation
"Mel, Thank you for all your work in producing the best conference
I have been to in years!"
-- Nelson DeBrosse, NCR Corporation
I just wanted to send a quick email to you and tell you thanks for
all the hard work you did at MMHS. Your guidance was necessary
and beneficial to GET IT DONE. I am hopeful for the future
here and we owe you thanks for helping us get started toward that
-- Ellen R. Wahl, RN, BAS, Director ICU/CCU, Mercy Memorial
Whether you need help with
a single meeting or ongoing assistance to keep a team on track, Acorn's
facilitation services can help you maximize the usefulness of the time
you spend with your colleagues and team members. Participants of effective
meetings walk out energized and motivated. There is a sense of accomplishment
Meeting and Team Facilitation
- Planning - Acorn
will help you move beyond a simple meeting agenda to a complete meeting
plan with specific outcomes and the right participants. Acorn will work
with you to identify your overall objectives and needed accomplishments.
We will help you identify the participants who will contribute to the
success of the meeting. We will also design the activities for the meeting
to achieve the objectives and accomplishments.
- Facilitating the Meeting
- Acorn will establish and maintain a positive climate, ensure participation
by all, encourage collaboration and teamwork, manage the time, and focus
the attention of all on the objectives and needed accomplishments.
- Follow-up - Acorn
will work with you to summarize the session, identify follow-on actions,
and evaluate the effectiveness of the meeting. This will help you focus
on the future: continuous improvement for your team, both in the work
being done and the meetings you conduct.
of us is as smart as all of us."
-- Japanese proverb
Partnerships Between Teams
These often exist when two teams come together to achieve a goal bigger
than either can achieve on its own. The great expectations are for both
the end accomplishment and for what the other team will contribute. And
because these great expectations are rarely voiced, they are often unmet.
Unspoken and unmet expectations even occur when two teams work side by
side in a single organization day after day.
"Teams are working away at Womancare. I felt your workshop
was just what we needed to
launch us into a new pattern of working relationships.
I believe our employees are now getting
to utilize their talents more fully."
-- Dr. Camilla Buchanan, Womancare of Williamsburg
When you establish a comprehensive
partnership between the teams, these great expectations are shared, explored,
modified, and finally supported. And as a result, the great expectations
have a much better chance to become great accomplishments.
How it Works:
- Members from both (or all)
come together to define the overall expected accomplishments.
- Each team works independently
to identify what it needs from the other team to be successful.
- The teams come back together
to share their needs, their expectations.
- Each team makes commitments
and creates plans to define how they will meet the expectations of the
"Every step we take--no matter how small-- to understand the
needs of the people we strive to serve will increase our bond with
them and move us in the direction of a higher standard of leadership."
-- Mahatma Gandhi
the Work Environment
An Innovative Organization
An organization can foster and stimulate creativity and innovation
in its employees or it can provide obstacles that prevent employees from
working effectively and utilizing their creative talents. Often the stimulants
and obstacles are unknown. While there is no single formula for fostering
an effective work environment, there are specific actions that can be
taken to improve the climate, increase employee skills, and establish
processes and mechanisms that support innovative thinking.
"Keep doing what you're doing. Or, if you want to spark
innovation, rethink how you motivate, reward, and assign work
-- Dr. Teresa M. Amabile, Harvard University
Assessing the Work Environment
Acorn Consulting provides a comprehensive service designed to assess an
organization's support for creativity in the work environment, to identify
the underlying causes for this support or lack of support, and to work
with the organization to develop action plans to improve the work environment.
This service uses the tool from the Center for Creative Leadership called
"KEYS: Assessing the Climate for Creativity." The service has
four major components:
- KEYS survey to identify
the strengths and opportunities for improvement
- Interviews with members
of the organization to identify the underlying causes of the KEYS results
and to identify possible actions that can sustain and build upon the
strengths while improving the areas that were identified as possible
- Results Workshop to present
the results to the organization and develop recommendations for improvement.
- Action Planning with the
management team to develop a workable plan to act upon the findings.
Survey is designed specifically to assess
the obstacles and stimulants to creativity in the work environment. It
is a reliable, valid measure of the elements in the work environment that
can impact creativity. KEYS is based on 12 years of research by Dr. Teresa
Amabile of Harvard University in association with the Center for Creative
Effective teams can accomplish far more than individuals working alone
could accomplish. The team members collaborate effortlessly to achieve
Many teams are not able to reach their full potential. There are various
obstacles that can keep a team from achieving its best results. As a result,
there is no single solution to improving teams. Rather, each team needs
specific assistance to address its unique challenges.
Acorn Consulting provides a
comprehensive service designed to assess the effectiveness of intact teams
and identify targeted actions for improvement. This service uses a tool
from the Center for Creative Leadership called KEYS. KEYS
was originally developed to assess how well an organization supports
creativity in the workplace. Current research has demonstrated that KEYS
is also effective in identifying strengths and weaknesses in teams.
"The best aspect of a Keys Assessment is the way people become
engaged in the business. After
an assessment, everyone seems to want to contribute to success."
-- Lonnie Franks, CPR Project Services
The service has three major
- KEYS survey
to identify the strengths and opportunities for improvement within the
- Interviews with members
of the team to identify the underlying causes of the KEYS results and
to determine if there is a shared understanding of team goals, roles,
responsibilities and operations.
- Team Improvement Workshop
to present the results to the team, develop recommendations for improvement,
and take appropriate actions.
"The good news is that teams can get unstuck as long as they
address barriers that relate to their specific performance challenge."
-- Jon R. Katzenbach and Douglas K. Smith in The Wisdom of Teams
KEYS is based on over 12 years
of research by Dr. Teresa Amabile of Harvard University in association
with the Center for Creative Leadership.
is a service mark of the Center for Creative Leadership
The KEYS Scales
- Organizational encouragement
- an organizational culture that encourages creativity through the fair,
constructive judgment of ideas, reward and recognition for creative
work, mechanisms for developing new ideas, and active flow of ideas,
and a shared vision of what the organization is trying to do.
- Supervisory encouragement
- A supervisor who serves as a good work model, sets goals appropriately,
supports the work group, values individual contributions, and shows
confidence in the work group.
- Work Group Supports
- A diversely skilled work group in which people communicate well, are
open to new ideas, constructively challenge each other's work, trust
and help each other, and feel committed to the work they are doing.
- Freedom - Freedom
in deciding what work to do or how to do it; a sense of control over
- Sufficient Resources
- Access to appropriate resources, including funds, materials, facilities,
- Challenging Work
- A sense of having to work hard on challenging tasks and important
- Organizational Impediments
- An organizational culture with internal political problems, harsh
criticism of new ideas, destructive internal competition, an avoidance
of risk, and an overemphasis on the status quo.
- Workload Pressure
- Extreme time pressures, unrealistic expectations for productivity,
and distractions from creative work.
- Creativity - A creative
organization or unit, where a great deal of creativity is called for
and where people believe they actually produce creative work.
- Productivity - An
efficient, effective, and productive organization or unit.