How do you align a diverse team to a shared vision and values?

According to the experts diversity in teams unlock innovation and drives market share (See article by Harvard business Review). This diversity can be inherent or acquired. Inherent diversity are traits you already possess at birth and acquired diversity are traits that you gain through experience. All teams therefore possess diversity even if they look very homogeneous. Often what makes us different from someone else are our values, those intrinsic beliefs of what we regard as important. However diversity isn’t enough to drive innovation in teams. The diversity needs to be unified within a shared vision. So how do you facilitate a process to help a team with diverse people with diverse values align around a shared set of values and vision? What follows is a process that I designed after being approached by a client, working in the tech innovation space, to facilitate a session that could 1) introduce new team members to the team’s values 2) help all team members to discover their personal values and how it aligns with the team values 3) develop a shared vision and 4) Identify 3 high level goals for the year. So I drew on 2 of my trusted and valued methodologies namely Applied Improvisation and ORSC (Organizational and Relationship Systems Coaching) and designed a process that sent shivers of excitement down my spine! So I’d like to share the process with you in short here. If you’d like me to come embark on a similar process with your team click here.
The process started with a fun energetic exercise that gets people talking about their expectations of the session and discover what the shared team expectations are. We then created what is call a Designed Team Alliance (DTA) in ORSC. It is a list of agreements around who they would like to be as a team during the session and beyond, even when it gets difficult. We then did a few Applied Improvisation exercises that helped the team to practice and embody their DTA. Typically these exercises focus on presence, empathic listening, collaboration, non-judgment, being vulnerable and having fun.
After that we moved into personal values. Here participants shared their personal stories around frustration and flow( triumphs) in pairs to get to their own personal values. They then presented themselves and their values to each other in an embodied way through an Improv exercise. During a short break I laid out a wheel with tape and 8 spokes on the floor. In each spoke I put one of their team’s values. I took them through an ORSC exercise called “walking the Meta skills wheel”, that helps the team to feel into each of the values and share their understanding of it, which ones they find appealing and which ones they find challenging.
They then had an opportunity to connect their own personal values with the team values. There was also space on the wheel that was open if they wanted to create a new team value if any of their personal values didn’t align with any of the team values. This team is part of a larger global organization with it’s own set of values, so we put the global organizational values in the middle of the wheel and reflected on how their personal values and their shared team values align with the global values.
After lunch we started with an energizing improv exercise that got everyone connected to their creativity and each other. I then took them through a guided visualization to develop a metaphor for their team and it’s strengths and challenges. Each person then drew a picture of their metaphor on the wall. From there I took them through an exercise to create a team vision. In a short time they came up with many options and settled on one that was short, punchy and integrated. We ended the day with the same energizing exercise we started the day with to identify their shared expectation for the day , but this time it was to identify their high level objectives for the year. During the whole process I had a graphic designer, Dian from Sunflood Studios,  present who captured moments through sketches on the wall. Using his own sketches and the team’s drawings he will design a visual summary of the day that will be printed and framed for the team to put in their office as a artifact that will remind them of the experience and their shared vision and values.

Here is what the senior manager of the team at Garmin had to say about the process “Extraordinary! Burgert does a great job of making the process playful and exciting, while delivering real value for our team. Burgert’s use of improvisation and play allowed our team to gain valuable insights about their own personal values and how these values fit in with the larger company. We were able to rediscover and revitalize a vision for our team and ensure that all team members were engaged and aligned with this vision.”
Click here if you are interested in trying out this process with your team.