Gathering Pace Consulting
  Building Momentum In Leadership and Organizational Performance

Competent, Quality Consulting and Solutions.
Our Teambuilding And Partnering Consulting
Improve Team Communications and Bottom-line Performance

“Great people” don’t equal “great teams.”
Tom Peters

Teams and partnering have huge potential to develop new products, complete complex projects, create ground-breaking innovations. Yet many teams and partnering arrangements fail outright or fall far short of their potential.

From teambuilding for drug development teams to partnering for large construction projects, our teambuilding and partnering consulting consistently achieves lasting results in turning problem teams around and helping good teams become great, achieving higher levels of communications and performance.

Our partnering teambuilding clients range from drug development project teams to complex construction projects, from new product development teams to scientist leadership groups. With 200+ successful partnering projects and two books on the subject -- The Partnering Solution (Career Press, 2005) and the Partnering Manual for Design and Construction (McGraw Hill, 1996) , we have established an enviable reputation as global partnering experts.

We use the words “teambuilding” and “partnering” interchangeably, as the processes we use to achieve gains are similar. The chief difference between the two is that “teams” usually refers to groups and departments in an organization while “partnering” refers to groups and teams that involve multiple organizations and departments.

Teams’ Problems

Extensive research by the US Navy, universities and major corporations contends that teams predictably fall prey to these problems:

• Performance slippage. While all teams can achieve 1+1=3 synergy, many actually suffer from 1+1=1 ½ slippage.
Individual negativity and passivity. People tend to be more critical, negative, and passive in a group than when they communicate in a one-on-one.
Individual focus. Even when the leader of a team is advocating teamwork, many members are actually thinking, “How does this affect me?”
Groupthink. Groups that are locked in conflict are obviously problematic, but groups that do not get into enough conflict can be equally ineffective.
Vocal minority, passive majority. Groups wrongly assume that people who don’t participate in “open” discussions don’t have anything to say. Extraverted participants tend to dominate group discussions while introverts withdraw, resulting in the group making decisions without benefit of many of its most important resources.
Questionable ethics. Groups and teams of all kinds possess a frightening ability to coerce individuals, even individuals with strong characters, to “go along” with the group sentiment.
Ineffective leadership. Many of the issues above stem from ineffective team leadership. Effective leaders have skills to manage group discussion, address and control groupthink and make passive participants more active.

Partnering Problems

Partnering between organizations and departments suffers from all the problems above along with several others:

1. Unraveling from the top down. Though the senior managers who initiated a partnering agreement fully understand and support it, the people who report to them --- and the people who report to them, etc. --- often do not.
2. Partnering with the greatest potential for synergy often experiences the most extreme miscommunications.
Miscommunications and conflict often result in partnering arrangements that have the greatest potential for synergy.
3. People inevitably miscommunicate. People, especially people in different organizations, speak different languages. Miscommunications are a fact of partnering life that must be anticipated and managed.
4. Unclear goals. Despite corporate communications, many people actually implementing partnering hold quite different understandings of the goals the partnering is intended to achieve.
5. Inadequate processes. People often underestimate the need for partnering arrangements to use clear, predictable processes and procedures for communicating.
6. Partner, Heal Thyself. Often, the most difficult problems in partnering are not between but within the organizations: lack of internal alignment and poor communications. Some of the most important work of partnering involves partners’ clearing up unresolved issues and ambiguity in their own organizations.

Teambuilding Myths, Facts,
Common Practices and Best Practices


Teambuilding Myth 1:  Teambuilding should never be needed.  If good people are selected, teamwork will follow automatically. 

Fact:  Teambuilding is necessary because even the most intelligent people don’t communicate as effectively as they perform their individual work.  Imp[roving team communications often results in significant bottom-line performance improvements.


Teambuilding Myth 2:  Teambuilding can’t accomplish much because people don’t really change.

Fact:  Effective teambuilding doesn’t involve drastic personal change.  When teams learn and apply basic team skills, teams improve.  . 


Teambuilding Myth 3:  The goal of teambuilding is to get members to like each other.

Fact:  The goal of teambuilding can (and often should ) be more focused on tangible improvements in communications and bottom-line team performance.


Teambuilding Myth 4:  The goal of teambuilding is to produce insight and awareness.  If team members are aware of the issues, they will take appropriate actions.

Fact:  Awareness is necessary but not sufficient.  Effective teams also need to work at setting goals, running meetings, clarifying roles and ultimately, improving performance.

Teambuilding Common Practices and Best Practices


In your typical teambuilding exercise, the employees are subjected to a variety of unpleasant situations until they become either a cohesive team or a ring of car jackers.

Scott Adams, The Dilbert Principle


Common Practice:  Teambuilding = Paintball.  Much teambuilding focuses on simply doing an activity.  The goals and outcomes of the activity are unclear. 

Best Practice:  Paintball and white water rafting can be enjoyable, but effective teambuilding focuses more on outcomes than activities in themselves. 


Common Practice:  Teambuilding = all action, limited reflection.  Much teambuilding does not allow enough time for participants to apply insights from their actions.

Best Practice:  Teambuilding involves an equal amount of action and reflection.  Most important, teams should discuss What can the group learn from that?  And What does the activity tell us about what we should do differently?


Common Practice:  Talk = action.  Much teambuilding assumes that discussion of issues and increased awareness in themselves will lead to change and improvement.

Best Practice:  Specific action planning.  No matter how interesting teambuilding discussions may be, the best predictor of teambuilding success is the specificity of the actions the group plans.  

Common Practice:  Teambuilding = Retreats.  Much teambuilding exclusively uses retreats as the structure for teambuilding work. 
Best Practice:  One-time retreats can generte useful momentum.  However, teambuilding spread over several meetings, with clear assignments and pilot action stesps between, consistently achieves greater lasting results.

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