08 October 2013

Creating Fully Engaged & High Performance Teams and the Wisdom of I-Ching

There are many articles and books that talk about how to create high performance teams. But many only cover the subject from a narrow angle. The wisdom of I-Ching however, is able to look at the subject from a wider angle. This post gives the details to show the power of I-Ching wisdom. So, save yourself the time to read many business books and let I-Ching guides you.
How to have an engaged and high-performance team has become a popular topic recently again. Maybe this is due to the multi-generation workforce, or the merger and acquisitions that are getting more frequent. Team building has always been a corporation favorite subject. Many team building programs are activities based. They get the people to play some games and to socialize together. They are good basic steps to get staff to know one another better, especially for some for the staff that are new to one another. However, just having happy staff working and socializing with one another is not the only objective of a business. A business is about having engaged staff working together to achieve the mission and visions of the business. The mission objectives must be shared, cascaded and aligned for all the staff to work passionately towards achieving them. Therefore, having team building games are but the very basic starting point for building a high-performance team. There are much more to be done to create the policies, directions and culture for high performance and fully engaged staff. We must address the mindset and the attitudes in greater scope and depth.

By searching, we can find many articles and books on the subject of teamwork. Each one will cover a certain aspect of the subject. If you can find some books that address the topic more comprehensively, please let us know. I personally find that the I-Ching is able to do more comprehensively than the books we find today. For example, in term of leadership, in 4 Basic and 5 Orientation Principles of Leadership from I-Ching, we find that leaders need to have creative power, receptive and nurturing love, integrity and humility as for basic virtues and five orientations to lead, depending on the situations. The five orientations are mission-task centered people-centred, synergy from diversities, congregational (team) culture centered and matching of talents and jobs. I have yet to find a leadership book that covers the scope and the agile principles for application. The early days business books talk about task oriented to achieve the mission. Later business books shift to people-centred. Present business books talk about inclusivity and the importance of talents. Business fads are like fashion where certain topic becomes popular and then dies off. But a business cannot be run by following the fads of its day.

Back to the main topic of interest, namely, "teamwork". I can do a keyword search of 'team' on my I-Ching mind-map. The following is the result of the search with the relevant wisdom being displayed:

What's Next?

1. I will expand the selected Hexagram (#38, #10) to include the wisdom from the 6 stage-lines associated with the Hexagram (i.e. like the Hexagram 45 Congregation in the map).

I will then get the following mind-map with some highlight to make it clearer:

2. Go through Each Branch of Map and Write down the thought triggered and the action that you will take to improve teamwork. The thoughts and actions will be very specific to your organization and hence I offer no specific answer here.

3. Grouping 
I will then group the thoughts and actions into clusters. It will get rid of duplicates but keep the related ideas together. Then, I will end up with a shorter list of things to do.

4. Prioritize, Collaborate and Share.
I will then prioritize the list of actions. The important and easiest things to do will be listed first.
I may want to share my discovery with my staff and gather more feedbacks and suggestions. After this, it will be a good time to think of the 5W2H for the actions. i.e. What, Who, When, Where, How and How much/many. Such assignment of work can also be conducted in a group with the right person volunteering to take over the relevant tasks.

In summary, I hope you find the wisdom of I-Ching useful. It can give you a wider and deeper view of things. It serves as a trigger to other or better ideas.

Lim Liat (c) 8 Oct 2013

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