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Building Hybrid Teams

| Posted by Michi Tyson Follow 0 Followers on Jan 19, 2015. Estimated reading time: 29 minutes |

Your Non-PC (But Culturally Sensitive) Guide to Creating a Better Team Environment

Anyone who has ever read an introductory book to agile methods or attended an entry-level agile course will be familiar with the values and principles underlying all agile methods, and especially the importance of trust, accountability and collaboration and the role that face to face communication plays in establishing and maintaining those aspects of team work.

Now we all know that this is hard enough to achieve if the stars are aligned - and the reality is that more often than not, they aren't!

I have spent most of my "agile life" working in non-textbook conditions - from facilitating workshops across multiple physical locations over training an off-site client Product Owner to coaching multiple project teams in different locations and varying stages of agile adoption, my agile journey has been a valuable (albeit turbulent) one to date! And in alignment with ongoing "globalisation" and an increase in the number of IT organisations using offshore partners over recent years, it's rather likely that "non-textbook conditions" will soon be the norm, so I'd like to share some of what I've learned when working with "hybrid teams", i.e. teams consisting of on-premises and offshore members - these teams have 3 distinct features distinguishing them from many other teams:

  1. They are (more often than not) multi-cultural
  2. They are geographically distributed (often across multiple time-zones)
  3. They are engaged in a vendor-client relationship

BRIEF INTRO TO COMMUNICATIONS THEORY - AND WHY BUILDING RAPPORT IN HYBRID TEAMS IS HARD!

One of the first things we aim to do as facilitators or coaches is to build rapport. Well-established rapport with team members enables a trusting relationship with open communication and willing participation in the coaching process and is therefore crucial if we want to achieve a positive outcome of any coaching engagement. However building the necessary rapport with coachees (and, in time, supporting team members to establish rapport among themselves) requires an array of verbal and non-verbal communication and cues, so I find it important to think about all the different factors impacting the communication between myself and team members as well as intra-team communication.

I personally like the concept / idea behind Berlo's "Sender Message Channel Receiver" (SMCR) model of communication - from it, we can learn that every instance of communication has 4 different elements, whereby it's important to recognise that the "sender" and "receiver" are constrained by the same aspects. The reciprocal nature of the relationship between sender and receiver means that regardless of the communication skills, attitudes, knowledge, social system and culture of the sender, it is the receiver who decodes the message, i.e. what will be communicated is only what can be understood within the receiver's constraints.

The Sender / The Receiver

According to Berlo's model, every sender and receiver is constrained in their ability to communicate by the following aspects:

Communication Skills

Our ability to communicate (both verbally and non-verbally) will strongly influence how successful we are in conveying our messages and building rapport. When working with hybrid teams we not only have to consider individual differences in communication skills but also language differences. The command we have of any given language will strongly impact our ability to (verbally) communicate in this language. As coaches, this means that we need to be aware of the level of English language skills available within the team (assuming English is the language you coach in) and adapt accordingly. Personally I have found that a number of culturally diverse teams communicate in more than one language, depending on the team members involved in the conversation and while I'm empathetic to the desire to "just communicate something quickly", it not only prohibits "osmotic communication" in co-located teams but can also be perceived as excluding behaviour towards those team members who don't speak the language.

What to do: Agree on a single language each team member can communicate in sufficiently to express themselves and be understood by others and add it to your Social Contract. The unfortunate nature of many English-speaking natives is that they often only speak one language well enough to communicate in and while many other cultures have come to expect and accept this, I like to encourage some equality across teams. Something that can be fun to do is the "word of the week", where team members introduce a word from their language each week for everyone else to learn and use.

Attitudes

This describes the senders' attitude towards the receiver of the message as well as the attitude of the sender to themselves. My experience with many hybrid teams is that the attitude towards each other as well as the coaching process is often not entirely positive - I will caveat this with saying that I've rarely coached a team that had only just started out, usually there was already a perceived "problem" with or in the team that highlighted the need for coaching. However I don't believe my experience is all that novel - a lot of offshoring team members are under great pressure to "be perfect" and having identified a need for coaching directly contradicts this perception. Equally, attitudes of onshore team members towards offshore team members can sometimes be negative - offshoring is often viewed as the "cheap" alternative and perceived as a direct threat to job security and ability to make a decent living.

What to do: I found that changing the language I use even slightly helps with initial barriers - while "continuous improvement" has become a commonplace phrase in many teams, embarking on a journey of continuous improvement requires first and foremost an acceptance that there is "room for improvement". Room for improvement in turn means that the Status Quo is not "perfect". If it's not perfect then unfortunately in some organisational contexts this means it's "substandard" - and no person, team or organisation would readily admit that their work is "substandard"! Having come from a vendor environment myself I'm all too aware of the pressures put on vendor organisations to be "perfect" and have been part of more than one commercial conversation (including a few that could easily be mistaken for shouting matches…) arguing that clients shouldn't have to pay for anything but perfection. So I now stay away from any language that would suggest that the Status Quo is anything but 100% "right" and focus on "different" instead. I'm not helping you "improve your process / communication / <insert your own>" but rather I'm here to help you find a "new / innovative / cutting-edge" way of delivering whatever you do.

Knowledge

What you know (or don't know!) directly impacts what you can and can't communicate - and when talking about communication, it's not only about subject matter knowledge but also about the knowledge on how to communicate the subject matter. To illustrate, I've recently tried to explain what I do for a living in my native language (NB: I'm Austrian and my native language is German) - without any success! I've left Austria before being introduced to agile, so while my knowledge is there, I'm lacking the ability to communicate this knowledge - I simply don’t have the words!

What to do: Sometimes it can be hard to identify whether or not people actually comprehend what a coach or facilitator tries to communicate and in many cultures it would be considered rather rude to suggest that the person talking to you is not making themselves clear enough! Personally I aim to include as many illustrative anecdotes, metaphors and examples for any idea / concept I try to communicate and usually work hard to add at least one or two non-work related examples. I found non-work related examples superior to work-related parallels in some cases as it seems to take people out of "learned behaviour" a little more. In my experience most people are perfectly accepting of the fact that we are fallible as human beings, sometimes engage in inappropriate behaviour and do things that maybe we shouldn't have - except at work we seem to think that we have to be, and actually CAN be, infallible.

Social System

The impact of our social system (including our culture) in both verbal as well as non-verbal communication is dramatic - not only does it determine how we communicate but often also who we communicate with. I have worked with offshore team members who were under strict instructions not to speak while on video conferences with their Australian team members! Especially many Southeast Asian countries have a culture of "saving face" - while there's more to it, for simplicity's sake it could be summarised as a compulsion to "be polite", except politeness means different things in different cultures. Here's a few things I've found particularly confusing (and sometimes frustrating!) over the years:

Public agreement

While in many "western" countries "creative abrasion" is an integral part of healthy work relationships, part of "saving face" is that any public display of agitation, frustration or stress is to be avoided at all cost. And this includes a healthy work disagreement!

What to do: I have found that, depending on the severity of the issue and how ingrained the behaviour is, you may need one or many of the following strategies to "get through":

  • Give explicit permission by adding an item to a social contract or starting a meeting / workshop with a "check in" activity that gets team members to identify the difference between collaboration and argument. Especially in environments were conflict is seen as something inherently "negative" it can also be useful to elaborate on the benefit of healthy conflict - a good starting point can be "The 5 dysfunctions of a team" from Patrick Lencioni's book of the same name (a short summary can be found here)
  • Use "non-personal" facilitation techniques such as the "6 thinking hats" or a dialectic inquiry technique. Rather than asking team members to openly voice a contrary opinion, these techniques can help to create divergent opinions while feeling safe to team members. Depending on how playful your team is you can also make a game of it to reinforce the normalcy of not sharing the same opinion / agreeing.
  • Continually reinforce desired behaviour (even if you wish you'd have never introduced it in the first place!) - highlight and reinforce every valid counter-argument and objection and foster healthy dialogue while ensuring the environment stays safe and healthy and conflict isn't escalating. The way I go about it I've found that people usually disagree with me (the coach) first, since I've given permission to do it and usually enthusiastically encourage team members to disagree. I'd have to lie to say that doesn't get frustrating sometimes but over the years I've come to see the light side of it - at least the learning has stuck! :)
  • Use a suggestion box when you think people have something to say but don't want to say it openly. Any small box can work, personally I favour a small metal box with a padlock on and an opening for little notes on top (if you're so inclined they can also make a lovely parting gift for the team when your time as a coach has come to an end). Place the box somewhere slightly removed from the general team area (so team members can contribute without being seen), explain it to the team, wait a while and then periodically check the box.
  • Show them how to disagree safely - I firmly believe that conflict is a skill like any other and can be learned and practiced. Introduce your team to a conflict escalation model such as the "5 Levels of Conflict" presented by Lyssa Adkins in her book "Coaching Agile Teams" or Friedrich Glasl's "9 Stage Model of Conflict Escalation" and work through examples and exercises that allow the team to start recognising their own behaviour, language and communication style. Draw the teams' focus away from "being right / wrong" and towards "good / better ways to communicate". Also introduce different possible responses to conflict, such as the Thomas - Kilmann model, outlining 5 possible responses of Collaboration, Accommodation, Avoidance, Compromise and Competition (for additional information on the model, see this). The more information a team has, the better they are equipped to make the best choices for themselves!

Yes is the answer - but what's the question?

Many of us will have fallen into this trap - you ask a question and the response is "yes". So far, so good - until we learn that "yes" for some team members means "yes, I've heard you" or "yes, I've understood the question" rather than being a direct response to the question posed

What to do: Instead of "closed questions" (i.e. those that only require a "yes" or "no" answer), use "powerful questions" to elicit better answers. A powerful question cannot be answered with a single response, making it an essential tool for any coach and I found it especially useful when working with teams where single-word answers can be ambiguous. A great collection of possible ways of asking powerful questions from the book "Co-active Coaching" (Whitworth, L; Kimsey-House, H; Kimsey-House, K; Sandahl, P;) can be found here  - use this as a starting point to create your own style!

Avoid embarrassment at all costs

The opposite of "saving face" is embarrassment and many people are terrified of it, so a common part of displaying politeness in Asian cultures is to avoid embarrassment - both to themselves as well as the person they're engaging with! Sounds nice, but unfortunately in my experience this one has a flipside - "embarrassment thresholds" are highly dependent on cultural context and often Asians are more easily embarrassed than their Australian counterparts. It has happened to me on several occasions that I found out after a workshop, training session, retrospective, etc that half of the team involved didn't understand a single word I said (due to a combination of my rather odd accent as well as speaking quite fast). In my experience, many offshore team members won't tell you if you're unintelligible, make absolutely no sense, are completely off-track or have whiteboard marker all over your face (true story!) simply to avoid YOU being embarrassed about it. Polite? Yes! Helpful? Not really!

What to do: In addition to giving explicit permission and continuously reinforcing desired behaviour, I also find that giving team members a non-verbal sign to signal that they have / have not understood / are interested can be useful. We often take it for granted that people will simply "make themselves known" if they have questions and / or require clarification, however in many cultures interrupting another person or "holding back the group" by asking clarifying questions would be considered quite "rude". Depending on your setting you can provide different coloured cards / pieces of paper for team members to signal a preference / understanding (e.g. green paper = "all good", red paper = "uncertain / please repeat") - while this works well in a scenario where you are teaching or presenting, you can use powerful questions to gain an insight in what team members have absorbed and understood of a particular discussion or decision to be made. I also encourage team members to paraphrase discussions and concepts and teach one another as much as possible - there's really no better way to learn!

The Message

The message is typically composed of

  • Content

Albert Mehrabian's "Communication Wheel" is often referenced with regards to the transmission of verbal messages - in his model, the words of any particular message only make up about 7% of the total message perception, with 55% of the message communicated by body language and 38% by tonality (i.e. the "tone of voice"). While these findings cannot be applied to all communication indiscriminately, they do show a strong preference for using non-verbal cues to extract meaning from a particular message, posing issues for distributed teams.

More information on Mehrabian's research is available here

  • Elements

The "elements" of a message are the language, gestures, body language, etc used as part of the message. The elements of a message will be heavily influenced by all aspects of the senders and receivers' backgrounds but particularly by attitudes, knowledge and social system.

  • Treatment

Is the way the message is "packaged" by the sender. Our personal communication style will heavily impact this, as will our communication skills and social system (especially with regards to the use of metaphors, idioms, etc).

  • Code

The code is the combination of content, elements and treatment and refers to the different ways in which the message is being sent by the sender. Again, the impact of the senders' and receivers' social systems and cultural background will significantly impact how a message is encoded and decoded - for example, many countries have gestures that carry specific meaning in one culture but are entirely unknown in other countries - a more well-known example here would be the use of the middle finger to express strong displeasure at something - while this has originated in Ancient Greece and Rome as a phallic symbol it has been largely adopted by the US and countries culturally influenced by the US, while I found that in the UK, the "V-sign" (or two-finger salute) is still the predominant gesture of choice (for Brits over 30, at least ;-)) while in my home country Austria, we used to use a gesture that involved clenching your fist and slapping your arm at the same time (a gesture I've recently learned is called "bras d'honneur" - thank you Wikipedia!).

What to do: If your team is distributed, focus on communication methods that allow (at least a certain amount of) "face to face" time, such as video conferencing. While a lot of focus is put on what is widely referred to as "body language", I'd like to also highlight the importance of tonality. Anyone who has spent any significant amount of time with teenagers will know that the most innocuous things can sound like a voodoo death curse if uttered with the right infliction - now we all know that it can be tricky to control yourself sufficiently to always "hit the right tone" as the saying goes, and this does not become any easier if you're communicating in another language!

In a nutshell, here's 4 things I like to be aware of when coaching hybrid teams:

  • Focus on face to face communication where you can
  • Body language is a huge part of communication but may be heavily influenced by cultural background - create an understanding among the team what different gestures mean in their culture
  • Metaphors, idioms, humour, etc often don't translate across cultural boundaries - either find examples, metaphors and jokes that do translate for your team or establish your own set of references within the team that you can use.
  • Tonality matters - and "hitting the right tone" in a foreign language is hard! Create shared understanding and acceptance of these differences within the team - encourage team members to ask clarifying questions and paraphrase what they heard to verify that this is what was meant.

The Channel

This refers to the means in which the message is being conveyed based on the 5 senses:

  • Hearing
  • Seeing
  • Smelling
  • Touching
  • Tasting

Those of you familiar with the concept of "preferred styles" and the V.A.K. model may know that individuals tend to have one channel that is their preferred way of engaging with the world - tapping into a persons' preferred model often increases the chances of successful communication, processing of the message and learning. The V.A.K model identifies 3 different preferred models:

  • Visual
    • learn by having visual cues
    • may struggle on conference calls or other purely verbal means of communication
  • Auditory
    • Learn through hearing
    • May find it difficult to process purely written information (e.g. emails, manuals, etc)
  • Kinaesthetic
    • Learn through "sensing" (e.g. exercises, experiential learning)
    • May find it difficult to relate to information that is "being fed to them" (e.g. via a presentation)

What to do: First and foremost, get to understand your own preferred model - it will likely heavily influence how you communicate with others and may even put them off. After some trial and error I try and include as many different examples and approaches to my communication. Since diversity is important for a strong collaborative team, you will likely have people with a mix of preferences in your team and sometimes these differences are a source of conflict - draw attention to these differences and explain that they are just shades of the same truth, not opposing sides. I also like to use paraphrasing to "translate" between team members who seem to be stuck on semantics or explain the VAK model in more detail to help team members appreciate their differences (e.g. some team members may get very upset by their peers doodling or building little figurines out of blue tack while they're discussing an issue or presenting something to the wider team, however it's not uncommon for kinaesthetic people to "need something to do with their hands" - this is not a sign of boredom or lack of interest but really a sign that they are processing what is being said).

There's heaps more to say, learn and understand about the VAK model - for a good starting point, see this 

IT'S NOT ALL DOOM AND GLOOM - 6 TIPS THAT WILL MAKE YOUR H&R REPRESENTATIVE SHUDDER

While for many coaches the ability to build rapport is innate (or has become subconscious due to many years of practice), we often only look at building rapport within the confines of our own cultural background. Unfortunately what may work well within a "Western" context has its limitations when we work with team members from different cultural backgrounds. Much offshoring is done in China and India, where social norms and customs differ strongly from those in Australia, often making attempts at establishing rapport in the same fashion as we do with Australian coachees futile.

Unfortunately I don't have the answers to everything (unless you'll accept 42), but here's a humble collection of stuff I've learned over the years:

1. Do your research & clarify expectations

Before you get started working with a hybrid team I found it's beneficial to understand the background a little better and create a "Coaching / Working Agreement" or similar. A good coaching agreement is similar to team working agreements (social contracts) and outlines the expectations and behaviours on both sides. This goes hand in hand with your "Coaching Contract" set up between yourself and the sponsor and all team members should have an understanding of who is sponsoring the coaching activities and what the goal is.

Here are some things I like to understand before starting to work with a hybrid team:

  • What is the relationship between the different organisations the team members work for (e.g. is it client / vendor, a partnership, an acquisition, etc)?
  • How long ago has this relationship been established?
  • Are there any sensitive political / commercial considerations between the two organisations?
  • How are team members incentivised and could this be counterproductive to team work?
  • How are team members allocated to the team and how is their time organised?

2. Focus on effectiveness, not only efficiency

Without going into a lengthy discussion on the benefits of effectiveness over efficiency, I find it important to understand that distributed, multi-cultural teams in vendor-client relationships need to be super-focused on monitoring effectiveness rather than efficiency (which, especially in many vendor environments may require a massive shift in organisational mindset).

3. Remember…..You're intimidating!

In western cultures, conveying self-confidence (or maybe, more correctly, self-efficacy) is crucial - we are trained to appear, act and speak confidently at all times and you've likely been told that confident people are more successful. However one person's confidence is another's narcissism and what is seen as a positive trait in some cultures is something to actively avoid in others. I like to think of myself as quite confident and certainly have an appearance and a way of carrying myself that would suggest a level of confidence to others - until I learnt that in some cultures, a short, (somewhat) loud woman with red spiky hair falls more on the odd/bizarre/frightening end of the social scale!

While in countries such as the UK, Australia and New Zealand most women are debating whether or not there's enough female representation on the boards of Fortune 500 companies (as a side note - this is an important argument since there clearly aren't enough!), we sometimes forget that especially in developing countries, it's still not the norm for men and women to receive equal levels of education (for those interested in the topic, an interesting report on gender, equality and education in South East Asia is available here) and therefore seeing women in a position of perceived influence and power can be intimidating.

Aside from gender-specific barriers there is also the highly hierarchical culture still prevalent in many countries - I've worked with offshore teams in India and Malaysia who were under strict instructions to only communicate (i.e. engage in a two-way exchange of information) with their onsite manager, which (rather predictably) led to a somewhat one-sided coaching session!

So here's a few tactics I've used to crack that particular nut:

  • Dress down - but not too much

I come from a Project Management background and would call myself a "lazy dresser" - bring on the black trouser suit! Suits are generally made (and worn) to exude confidence, power and authority, however I found they don't work so well to establish a peer-to-peer relationship with a multi-cultural team. Equally, "dressing down" as reasonably acceptable in many Western countries (i.e. sneakers, blue jeans, T-shirts) is often perceived to be disrespectful so after more than one wardrobe malfunction, I'd have to recommend the elusive "smart casual".

  • Lead with your personality, not your credentials

Many cultures still have a strong focus on credentials as a sign of seniority, hierarchy, knowledge and so on, and people from these backgrounds sometimes focus excessively on academic achievements when gauging the level of respect to show one another. This is not only true for "Eastern" cultures - having grown up in Austria I have learnt never to address those older / more senior than yourself by anything but their last name (unless they offer otherwise) and to always include someone's academic title in their name (i.e. it would be "Bachelor Smith" rather than "Ms Smith"). People even put their academic titles on their doorbell - and we're not just talking PhDs - Bachelors, Engineers, etc join the party! You want team members to respect one another based on their skill, not their credentials so I like to show my teams "who I am" rather than "what I've got" and I don't want to block communication by throwing around titles that would disqualify me as a "peer". Luckily, I'm an academic underachiever, so that's an easy one for me! :)

  • Wear a hat - if you've got red spiky hair!

I have zero scientific proof that this one actually works but it hasn't harmed me so far - and it keeps your head warm!

4. It's not just about "face to face communication"

Try and get a distributed team together at least once - this will be much quicker (and in many cases therefore also more cost-effective) in establishing rapport among team members than doing it via video conferencing or phone calls. We often think about the practicalities of co-locating teams, such as information being available more easily, usually requiring less documentation and rework, less likelihood of miscommunication, etc. but what we sometimes forget is the stuff that has nothing to do with work!

Remember the last time you had a call from a call centre agent trying to sell you something - if this happens to you regularly and at inopportune hours (such as Sunday evening while you're trying to get the roast potatoes on, for example) chances are you may have been a little less polite to them than you would have liked. You may even have been borderline unpleasant after the 10th, 15th, 20th call - now imagine if you had to look the person on the other side in the face. More likely than not you would never be quite that abrupt, your tone would be different and you may take the time to explain why now is NOT a good time. Now imagine they would come round your house, tell you about their family and their weekend plans - isn't it hard to imagine using the same words and tone with them now. And if you ever wonder if this is being exploited - while I still lived in Austria, insurance brokers would come by your house, have coffee with you, get to know your family and would often fall in the category of "trusted financial advisor" - while hideously inefficient, I can certainly vouch for the effectiveness - most of my family members are outrageously over-insured!

What I'm trying to show with the example above is that while "having a face to a name" goes a long way, it doesn't bridge the gap of "getting to know you". Co-located teams can rely on osmotic communication to pick up on similarities that allow them to establish rapport - think of the chats about new movies, bands, childcare facilities, a news story, etc that you just "stumbled upon" in the office kitchen that showed you a side of a colleague you've not seen before. When coaching distributed teams you can help this along a little - here's a few ideas:

  • Schedule a buffer in your conference calls - 5 - 15 mins for socialising at the start / end of a session should be enough
  • If the team is timid, lead fearlessly and be willing to share your own interests, hobbies, personal experiences with the team
  • Create an email group for varying interests (e.g. we've had "All stuff sports", "Dirty Jokes" and "New Movies") - team members can sign up for the email groups they're interested in and the whole team shares related info via the email group

5. Create an even playing field (make it suck for everyone)

Remember the last time you were on a conference call? Also remember that moment where you muted the phone and started doing something different (for me, that comes about 5 minutes into any conference call!)? Were you disengaged? Bored? Frustrated? Clueless about what was going on? If so, then it's rather likely that you were one of the select few on the "line" part of the conference and a bunch of other people were co-located somewhere with an onsite facilitator, referring to things you couldn't see (e.g. "we've already captured it on the parking lot"), laughing about stuff you didn't understand ("don't worry about it, just a silly joke on our end") and likely communicating in a rather confusing pattern (it's surprisingly hard to distinguish voices on the phone!). And this is assuming your line was fine, nobody came to kick you out of the meeting room halfway through and the time difference didn't mean you were still trying to wake up! Sometimes we can't avoid having to use the phone to communicate as a team, but I found personally (and have had this confirmed by others who tried) that putting everybody on the phone can work a lot better. It's not that it doesn't suck anymore - now it just sucks for everyone! As we all struggle with the same context, we can be empathetic (and therefore more patient) with one another, which helps create understanding and tolerance.

6. Have respect - but don't forget to have fun! Don't get caught up in the PC trap…

Coming from a country responsible for starting two World Wars and having contributed to some of the most appalling crimes against humanity I am aware that people try to be polite when they leave certain references out of the conversation and while I'm all for being respectful, I also think we can get a little too concerned with what we can and can't say. The maturity of your team (and your relationship with the team) obviously need to guide you here but I like to create an appreciation of each others' culture, both the good and the bad stuff! Personally I often start with the positives and depending on your team, I have found that food can be a powerful glue - in multicultural, co-located teams we've had team lunches, where every Monday one team member would bring in something that reminded them of home or of their childhood for the whole team to enjoy. Not only have I found out that many people appreciate it (ex-pats like myself often miss the food they associate with family gatherings or childhood memories), food is also very indicative of society and cultural norms and provides a great talking point for team members. If your team isn't co-located, this still works provided you have a bunch of people per location - cook the same dish in each location and use your 15 minutes of socialisation before the next planning session to chat about it!

If food is not a winner, have a different cultural exchange - tell a popular joke (the translations alone can be hilarious), teach each other words in your native languages, celebrate each others' holidays, even if it's just with small gestures. In a nutshell, don't pretend that "we're all the same" - having been an ex-pat for around a decade myself now I know that singling others out based on their heritage, ethnicity or belief is wrong on many levels, but pretending that we're all the same, while often based on the best intentions, can make people feel unappreciated and uncared for too, so let's celebrate diversity and individuality to create a team that truly is more than the sum of its individual parts!

Disclaimer: While written from my own experience, with the best intentions in mind and a sizeable chunk of tongue firmly planted in cheek I do hope not to offend any readers with this post. Any cultural misrepresentations are born out of honest mistakes and I appreciate all additions and rectifications to the original post!

About the Author

Michi Tyson worked with an array of Professional Services providers, Telecommunications Operators and Financial Institutions across the globe and  has a wealth of experience training, coaching and consulting teams and individuals at various stages of their career.  Being Australia's first "ICAgile Certified Expert" in Agile Coaching, Michi now brings her passion and experience in leadership, coaching, mentoring and organisational transformation to her role as development team lead at atmail, a Queensland-based leading email provider to ISPs worldwide, where Michi is responsible for the daily operational management of the "atmail army".

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What about education culture? by David Halonen

Hi, I really like this article. Many actionable steps. Thank you.

Many countries have a different style of teaching. Several empathize rote learning, for example. This one in particular, seems to be at odds with the notion of constant improvement or self-organizing teams. Is this your experience as well? Other thoughts?

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