Thinking Differently

Being able to think differently is a huge asset right now. As we look for answers to what our business will look like in the future, we need to make sure that we are fully tapping into peoples’ creativity and that they feel supported to experiment and try new things. We are holding a virtual workshop on thinking differently – Thursday 30th April at 1.00 pm. We would love to have you there. Please share and click on the link below to register.

Commitment by Simon Coker


Following on from a team having the necessary trust in each other and embracing constructive conflict as a positive behaviour of a healthy group, commitment is moving from difference of opinion to everyone involved being behind the decision that has been made.


Two things that help that happen are firstly it being clear what decision has been made and secondly everyone to be supportive of that decision – whether or not it was their initial first choice.


When we start to think about this behaviour the value of trust and conflict become apparent.  People need to trust each other to feel psychologically safe enough to disagree.  Without this safety and the robust conversation that it facilitates, people don’t get to express honest opinion and feel that they have been heard.  To get real commitment to decisions we need to feel things are being done with us rather than to us.  So, make sure everyone is involved in the virtual conversations you are having.


When working at a distance, partly due to the constraints of the tech, conversations can more easily get muddled.  Being clear on what is being discussed (and what is not!) in which meeting, and having distinct meetings for different topics (strategy, tactics, commercial etc.) will help avoid that confusion of “What are we here to discuss?”, and the resulting disengagement.  Clearly articulating what has been decided and why (having listened to everyone’s input!) as well as confirming key outcomes in writing post-meeting will add clarity – better to look back and say we probably over communicated a bit than under communicated.


The complexity and ambiguity we are experiencing in Covid 19 times can easily stall commitment.  When there is so much uncertainty flying about it can be easy to shy away from committing to decisions and fall into paralysis by analysis.  Actually, it’s unrealistic to be 100% certain on what is the right course of action just now (if it ever is), so waiting around for that certainty is counterproductive.  Performing teams and leaders can notice and avoid that scenario by recognising when it is better to make and commit to a decision with the information we currently have, than to flounder in the hope that certainty will somehow arrive.  It is always possible to commit to a different course of action in the future if necessary.


Commitment to the team decision, build on trust and constructive conflict, keeps the team aligned and builds the sense of in it together.

Trust by Simon Coker


Humans are social creatures; our strength is in our connections with other people.  The trust in those connections is the glue that holds teams together.  As such “social distancing” is at odds with something at the very core of who we are as people and unchecked will jeopardise the ability of teams to perform.


With people at home surrounded by the uncertainty of what is going on around them and disconnected and isolated from their networks, our feelings of vulnerability are likely to be dialled up a notch or two.  And when we feel vulnerable what do we do?  We go defensive and protective and we feel scared, and in that storm it’s hard to trust.  We need to really know that people have got our backs, we need to really trust that they are there for us.


Without the physical presence we are accustomed to, it is easy for gaps to open up in the trust team members have with each other and that is the start of a slippery slope.  On the other hand, have each other’s back through the difficult times and you’ll emerge stronger than ever.


When we talk about trust we are talk about vulnerability-based trust.  i.e. deciding that something I hold to be of value is safe with this person in this situation.  In this current climate leaders need to be stepping up their effort to trust and be trustworthy, give and hold those things of value.  Connect with people to recognise and acknowledge the challenges and difficulties.  Accept and communicate the uncertainty (no-one has all the answers at the moment, and everyone knows it) but let people know we are in this together and will work through it together.


As we settle into the foreseeable, to build trust, reframe your role from working around social distancing to building social connection while physically distanced.

Thriving in a Crisis – Commitment

In the third film in our mini-series on how teams can thrive in a crisis, Simon Coker looks at what leaders can do to make sure that their teams really buy into decisions. At a time when clarity and commitment are vital ingredients, this is a great skill to work on.

We are holding a free virtual workshop looking at “How teams can thrive in a crisis” on Tuesday 14th at 1.00 pm. We would love to have you there. You can register using this link:


Thriving in a Crisis – Conflict

“Conflict”- the second in our mini-series on how teams can thrive in a crisis. David Robertson looks at how leaders can encourage quality debate and drive engagement. Join us for our virtual workshop on April the 14th at 1.00 pm.

Click this link to register:

Thriving in a Crisis – Trust

Trust is the glue that binds great teams together. In a crisis, especially when distancing is the new normal, we must work very hard to build and maintain trusting relationships. In this short film, Simon Coker talks about what we can do to make sure that our teams continue to thrive while working remotely. We are sharing a series of short films in the next few days, building up to an online workshop on the 14th April at 1.00pm.

In the session, you will be able to talk with peers and take away usable ideas for successful leadership and teamwork in a crisis. Click on the link to register and please share. We look forward to seeing you next week. Stay safe.

Thriving in a Crisis – Introduction

We have been speaking to leaders from different sectors to understand how they are setting their teams up for success in these fluid and uncertain times. Their stories are inspiring and practical. We will be sharing a series of short films in the next few days, building up to an online workshop on the 14th April at 1.00pm.

In the session, you will be able to talk with peers and take away usable ideas for successful leadership and teamwork in a crisis. Click on the link below to register and please share. We look forward to seeing you next week. Stay safe.

Why work with an External Virtual Facilitator?

If you are serious about wanting to run the best virtual workshop possible, here are 5 reasons that you should consider working with a Wild Thinking facilitator:

1. Preparation
A big part of the success of any virtual workshop is about what happens before anyone even enters the room. A Wild Thinking facilitator will take responsibility for ensuring that when people turn up they are clear on why they are there, they understand the purpose of the session and they have all the information they need. They will make sure that the materials in the room are right for the group. This all takes time, focus and experience.

2. The Right Agenda and Process
A Wild Thinking facilitator is there to make it easier for a group to have a great session. Designing an agenda that engages people is key to this but the facilitator will also bring a wealth of experience in how to structure sessions to make sure that everything flows and that outcomes are achieved.

3. Neutrality
Many organisations have good internal facilitators but will they really be able to be truly independent of the workshop topic or the people involved? The beauty of a Wild Thinking facilitator is that they are there purely in support of the group, with no axe to grind and no bias.

4. Airtime
Rooky Facilitator trap #1 is a very easy one to fall in to – thinking that active conversation from a small number of participants means good levels of participation from the group. Often, the opposite is true. A few voices hog all of the airtime, leaving others feeling uncomfortable and disengaged. An experienced Wild Thinking facilitator will manage these dynamics and make sure to create an environment where everyone has a chance to contribute

5. Action
Nothing leaves a sour taste in the mouth after a busy virtual workshop like a lack of clarity on what was agreed and what should happen next. A Wild Thinking facilitator will always have an eye fixed on the follow up – recording decisions and structuring follow up actions so that the group is clear and accountable on who is going to do what and why. They will then capture everything in a clear write up that is circulated promptly after the session.

Need a Virtual Facilitator?


Contact: Wild Thinking to discuss your team and let us share virtual or face to face workshop approaches

Building Team Trust by Tearing Down Silos

Wild Thinking want to share this great Case Study from an Australian retailer who dismantled its silos and increased team effectiveness with The Five Behaviours of a Cohesive Team™.

“HOW DO I BUILD TEAM TRUST?” asked co-CEO Luke Harris, the founders’ son of the family-owned Harris Farm Markets retail chain that has thrived from it’s first fruit store in 1971. The enterprise, now has 25 sites in the Sydney, Australia region and 1,400 employees. Harris Farm Markets had attracted a loyal clientele but was hampered by a siloed, distrustful, and competitive internal environment. Recognising that teamwork was their most untapped competitive advantage, the company turned to The Five Behaviours of a Cohesive Team™, the comprehensive team development program from Wiley.

“One of the four pillars of our strategic plan is to create a team of enthusiastic experts who our customers love. We were good at that,” says Harris, “but we could never get our area managers working together.” Five area managers were each responsible for five stores…and cared only about their five stores. Meetings were tense, teams were secretive, and areas operated as separate businesses. “We had a silo mentality to the extreme,” relates one area manager. “One of my fellow area managers happily stated, ‘I only look after my group of stores and that is it.’”

Harris recalls one incident that typified the issue. Area managers would occasionally be asked to visit another manager’s store and provide feedback. The most experienced area manager on staff paid a site inspection to the least experienced manager’s store. On hearing his feedback, she became extremely defensive. “She thought he was having a go,” Harris recalls. The visiting manager’s reaction was equally negative. “If she’s not going to listen to me, this is a waste of time,” he declared, and walked out.

“Even at the CEO level,” admits Harris, “we acted as a tag team, not a rowing crew.” The company was adept at getting things done short term; executing for the long term was very difficult. In order for the company to achieve its full potential, the organisation’s culture had to change.

Harris embarked on The Five Behaviours of a Cohesive Team™ learning experience that helps team members and leaders understand how their unique group dynamic can build a more effective team and achieve sustainable results. Using the Everything DiSC™ personality assessment to establish a neutral language and encourage productive conversations, the facilitated sessions of The Five Behaviours of a Cohesive Team™ enable teams to see where they stand on the five pillars of The Five Behaviours model: trust, conflict, commitment, accountability, and results.

The Harris Farm Markets Area Management team took The Five Behaviours assessment, rating themselves in each of the five behavioural traits.  The results confirmed Harris’s observations: The team’s commitment to the organisation was high and they were moderately able to engage in constructive conflict and focus on achieving results. But low scores in trust and accountability raised a red flag: Team members were reluctant to admit weaknesses and mistakes and to be vulnerable and honest with one another. They were focused on their own areas rather than on the organisation as a whole.

The area managers we’re brought together for a two-day offsite. The Five Behaviours program is not like your typical training session.  Facilitators cannot simply work to a time schedule and tick off agenda items. In order to move forward, the team needs to demonstrate vulnerability-based trust, everyone needs to participate in positive conflict, participants need to show they are committed, colleagues need to hold their peers accountable, and lastly, the team needs to show they can put the collective results ahead of their own individual results.

Not surprisingly, the first session, was awkward and difficult. “We had set aside two days for the workshop and spent a whole day on vulnerability. But no one wanted to let their guard down. The discomfort in the room was palpable,” Harris remembers. At the end of the first day, the group threw in the towel. Unless they could be vulnerable and trusting, the team was unlikely to successfully tackle conflict, commitment, or results. They cancelled the second session and rescheduled in the hope that the holidays and New Year break might enable them to start fresh.

In January 2015, the group reconvened. The wait was worth it: After five tough hours, a breakthrough struck. “A senior manager dropped his guard,” relates Harris, “and that’s when it all came out. The manager had very significant issues around his vulnerability and once he opened up, the conversation just flowed.” As often happens in The Five Behaviours sessions, the revelation did not need to be very dramatic. “All he did was admit to something he was really bad at and apologise to someone across the table,” says Harris. “That brought the walls down between the team and we roared through. You could feel the transformation.”

The group moved along to the rest of The Five Behaviours modules, learning to engage in the unfiltered, constructive debate of ideas, commit to decisions, and hold one another accountable to a clear plan of action, all toward the goal of achieving collective results.  By the end of the program the team agreed (via some healthy conflict) on three action items. Weekly meetings now begin with these three action items, keeping them front of mind and ensuring the team remains more effective.

The pre-program assessment, we noted earlier, had shown the Harris Farm Markets team to be weak in four out of the five behaviours. Four months after the program, the follow-up progress report painted a very different portrait.  The team had significantly improved in all five behaviours, scoring high in four out of the five behaviours. Most gratifyingly, in the area of their biggest challenge, trust, the area managers leaped from low to high.

The progress in the day-to-day dynamics among the team members has been transformed.  Feedback from a colleague is welcomed, not dreaded. “Before, if another manager walked into your shop, you’d be horrified,” Harris says. “Now, they ring each other up asking, ‘Please come and have a look at this and tell me what you think.’”

Harris Farm Markets received a wake-up call that highlighted the conscious effort required to maintain successful team unity. December 2015 was the only month in the fiscal year when they did not hit budget.  It was also the period when they noticed vulnerability falling off and tension creeping back into the managers’ meetings. “Was it just because we weren’t hitting budget that we became dysfunctional—or maybe we weren’t acting so wonderfully toward each other because we were aware that we weren’t hitting budget. That could have been the elephant in the room that struck all our vulnerabilities. I’ve been reflecting about that,” said Harris.

A second workshop was arranged, and soon camaraderie, contributions, and humour revived at meetings. “If a team loses vulnerability, it starts to lose its cohesiveness,” Harris points out. “It takes work.”  Harris Farm Markets area managers appreciate the ongoing nature of The Five Behaviours framework. “We are constantly building a better team,” says Helen, an area manager. “We have more to work on and we are doing this together. We can only become more awesome.”

Helen’s fellow area manager, Peter, senses new respect for the area management team in the company. “After completing the course, it was clear that the team was totally engaged in becoming more united. We are currently working on some very big projects. I can safely say that if we hadn’t completed The Five Behaviours course, we would not achieve what we set out to achieve. It was one of the most beneficial courses I’ve completed in recent years.”

While the bottom line is always on Luke Harris’ mind, an equally gratifying benefit stands out for him. Harris Farm Markets is, simply, “a lot more fun.” And that’s the best result any employer or employee could hope for.

© 2016 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. All rights reserved.  “The Five Behaviours of a Cohesive Team” is a trademark of John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Wild Thinking Limited are Authorised Partners of: The Five Behaviours of a Cohesive Team™  & Everything DiSC™