The power of teams

Unlocking the power of teams reaps real benefits



Image of group of garden gnomes illustrating Fairisle article The Power of Teams
Article Author Sarah Willcox

Sarah Willcox is the Founder of Fairisle Consulting

I was getting ready to run the latest online Fairisle Lab recently. We’d worked really hard to put it all together – set it up on eventbrite, done all the marketing and created a good workshop plan with plenty of opportunities for interaction. We had a healthy number of bookings and several people had told me how much they were looking forward to it.

Half an hour before the Zoom call was due to start I realised I didn’t have my keyboard with me. Not normally a problem, I mean I was using a laptop. But I was intending to use my standing desk and I really needed a keyboard if I was going to do any typing.

So I jumped on a call with my team and explained my problem. After a little bit of joshing at my expense we came up with a plan. John would support my breakout room by scribing whilst Philip would facilitate a second breakout room . This meant that all I had to do was talk and run the presentation.

I could have made the decision to struggle alone through the session but I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t have been as good a workshop as it turned out to be. I know the decisions we made as a team to rescue the workshop weren’t earth-shattering, but it did show that drawing on the resources of your team is often a good thing to do.

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It’s worth perservering

But working with teams is not always a walk in the park, because teams are made up of people, and people are complex beings. We at Fairisle think that despite the difficulties, it’s always worth persevering, because unlocking the power of teams will reap real benefits. Here are a couple of examples of how a team can be a challenge, but also how to tackle problems in teams.


If you’re like most people you’ll see disagreement in the workplace as a negative. A disagreement over something quite simple can quickly turn into a full blown argument. In some cases there are lasting impacts on the team, especially when the stakes are high. But imagine a world where everybody agrees on everything. It would be a much quieter world, but I don’t think much innovation would emerge. At Fairisle, we acknowledge that everyone looks at the world differently. And we think that’s a good thing. Where disagreements emerge, this is a sign that people in your team are engaged, that they care about the subject under discussion.

The key to changing disagreements from obstacles to solutions is good listening. This sounds a bit trite I know but good listening is not just about sitting there and letting other people’s opinions flow over you. That’s hearing not listening. Good listening is a conscious activity made up of distinct skills you can learn. Have a look at our Disagree Brilliantly technique to discover more.

Icon for the Fairisle workshop Disagree Brilliantly - the how to disagree workshopLEARN HOW IT WORKS

Disagree brilliantly

The how to disagree workshop


Lack of direction

A team without a common goal isn’t really a team, but a collection of individuals. We often find that teams don’t have a full understanding of their objectives. There might have been an objective-setting exercise in the recent past, maybe even an envisioning session. Sometimes a team’s objectives are set out in their email footers. But the sense of the team having a common vision, set of goals and a clear plan for delivery just hasn’t landed with the team itself. This is often because envisioning and objective setting have been conducted as abstract exercises, led by senior people, without really involving the team members themselves. As a result, the team doesn’t work together well, tasks are started and not finished, or the wrong activities are carried out because people just don’t understand how their work contributes to the achievement of team goals.

Image of ornamental birds facing the same way illustrating the Fairisle article How to build consensus


How to build consensus


The power of teams

At Fairisle we have adapted Scrum Agile principles to solve this and other problems. We ensure that the team vision is properly worked out, with contributions from all team members. We guide the team through the creation of realistic, measurable tasks which are clearly aligned with the team’s objectives. This way everyone is involved, and everyone delivers on an achievable plan. Have a look at the ‘Deliver your changes’ component of our Consulting for Change process to discover more.

We always emphasise the value of team working as part of our Consulting for Change approach. And that’s because we believe that teams, even though they can be difficult, are an organisations’ most powerful assets.  If you’re finding team working hard going, simply book your free consultation and we’ll help you to unlock the power of team.

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