Author: Phil Hartwick
First Published: 2015
About this time two years ago, a friend and a client of mine said to me: “Phil, leadership teams in our organisation talk a lot of strategy, but don’t walk the talk. Nothing really changes. What we need is somehow to get them to follow through and execute on the strategy they’ve agreed as a team. If you can help us with that, I’ve got lots of work for you.”
The more I discussed this problem with other clients and colleagues, it became increasingly evident that there were teams everywhere that were either under performing or not reaching their potential.
As any good consultant would do, I went away and began working on a solution to his problem. This involved reading everything I could on teams and strategy and then creating a process I called ‘The TPF’ or Team Performance Framework.
Within months I had found four leaders who saw there was an opportunity to lift their team’s performance. For these leaders, investing in the team for the long haul was a no-brainer. I think that this is the biggest hurdle that many leaders have to overcome.
We often ponder and debate how teams like the All Blacks consistently perform at such high levels. We know that they haven’t achieved greatness just because of the high quality of the players. Critically, they’re also well supported by experts who know how to get the most out of each individual and get them to work together as a unit. Great collaboration doesn’t usually happen through osmosis: it takes some effort and investment.
Having four very different organisations and four very different leadership teams to work with was the perfect opportunity to try out some of the concepts and strategies that I believe helps teams excel. It was perfect. Most things worked better than expected and some things didn’t. Fortunately there were no real disasters. A year and a half later, I am still working with all of these teams to support the leaders, and the forward progress has been startling.
I wouldn’t dare claim that their progress was mostly because of my work. We know that much of any team’s progress comes from having great leaders who have brought together high quality team members, and who lead them well from then on. I can confidently say however (and this has been borne by subsequent follow up interviews), that our work with each team has had a big impact on how the team members work together to drive critical results.
Now I am joined by two highly skilled and inspiring business partners, Shaun and Belinda who believe in ‘taking team seriously’ and are helping me take the Team Performance Framework to a wider market and to new levels. Together we form ‘UPDRAFT’, a new company with a name that came after a long search.
The name UPDRAFT was inspired by recently released research findings showing exactly how it is that geese are able to fly further by flying in formation. What became clear from this research was that each bird in the flock was acutely aware of the movement of those around it and constantly adapts its own flight to make the most of the others’ effort. That is, the flock’s performance is dramatically improved by each bird using the updraft of the bird’s wings in front for lift. The effort of each flock member helps the progress of the whole. One flock, one team.
To date, we have developed two products, or team improvement systems. The first is Sprint2Eight™ – a leadership team framework that gives each team a supporting lift on their journey to high performance. The second is Three2One™ a pared down framework for operational teams. Each framework includes a variety of support strategies and tools that acknowledge each team is different, each team member is unique, and each team is on its own journey. Therefore these frameworks help teams determine what they need to do to become great.
We have begun trialling a third methodology for working with teams in conflict with considerable success and a process designed especially for the unique challenges faced by project teams is in development.
There are so many teams out there that need a real lift and that’s why we’re here. We take ‘team’ seriously. UPDRAFT.