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What Does Google Have to Teach Us About High Performance Teams? [Graphic Recording]

Here’s what we learned about High Performance Teams while Graphic Recording at the recent World Institute for Action Learning (WIAL) Regional Conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. (Surprise: It has little to do with the star players, or even the team leader!)

Google’s five keys to a successful team inspired Dr. Peter Cauwelier, Secretary of the WIAL and Thailand’s foremost Action Learning Coach, to explore how that dovetailed with Action Learning.

In addition to further research, he observed real clients who achieved real organisational results (hence “high performance”) through the use of Action Learning, and here’s what Dr. Cauwelier discovered.

In a nutshell, High Performance…

  1. Isn’t (just) about star players or the leader. Surprise, surprise!
  2. Team Psychological Safety is the key determining factor of team performance. In fact, Google’s research says, “Psychological safety was far and away the most important of the five dynamics we found — it’s the underpinning of the other four.” Yup, there’s no competition.
  3. So what’s Team Psychological Safety? It’s the shared understanding by Team Members that the Team is safe for interpersonal risk-taking.
  4. When there is this safety, Team Learning can take place. Behaviours of Team Learning include asking feedback, speaking up about concerns and mistakes, seeking help, being willing to step out of and span boundaries, and reacting to innovative behaviour.
  5. Team Learning brings about Team Performance, where there is alignment in the team leading to results. And, these results should be measurable (stretch goals met)!

What has Action Learning got to do with High Peformance?

Action Learning provides the CONTEXT and PROCESS to get to High Performance Teams.

If you’re new to Action Learning, it is a process that involves a small group working on real problems, taking action, and learning as individuals, as a team, and as an organization. It helps organisations develop creative, flexible and successful strategies to pressing problems.

Through asking questions and reflections…
Teams get to ideas, insights, and solutions in action!


What have you observed about the high performance teams you’ve worked with? Do the findings ring true for you? We’d like to hear your thoughts in the comments below! 


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  • […] Clients who ask you to work on a pro (or low) bono basis will often give lofty reasons why you should agree. Sometimes, you might seek out precious opportunities that you’d gladly barter your professional services for. So yes, sometimes there may be great reasons to agree to work for free. I’ve done so for community conversations with fascinating personalities like Philip Yeo, and in leading a graphic recording contingent to the World Institute of Action Learning Regional Conference. […]

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