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Ian Dodds Consulting’s (IDC) Monthly Best Practice: June 2013

Driving high performance by building excellence in strategy formulation and delivery and in teamwork

Last week I was speaking at a conference on the business case for inclusion and how to make it happen. One of the questions I was asked was “if you were to recommend one thing to build inclusive, high performance teams in an organisation, what would it be?” I began my answer by referring to some publications on effective strategy formulation and implementation and teamwork. The first is a book by Max Isaac and Anton McBurnie: ‘The Third Circle’. This explores the balance between sound strategy, superior execution and effective interaction. It concludes that effective interaction is the frequently neglected circle. The other publications were in the April 2012 Harvard Business Review. These all referred to a key limitation in high performance teaming as being interactive effectiveness. Indeed, in one article ‘The New Science of Building Great Teams’ the author and researcher, Professor Alex “Sandy” Pentland, MIT, concluded that interactive effectiveness was more important than skill, intelligence and all the other factors that go into building a great team combined.

However, none of these publications offers, in IDC’s experience, a practical solution to building an effective interactions’ capability for strategy formulation and execution and building great teams. For many years IDC has been working with Boards, line teams and project teams to help them build interactive effectiveness for high performance. Often this involves sitting in on their meetings and doing a profile of the interactive behaviours they use during the meetings and noting critical incidents of good and bad interactions. The profile and the critical incidents are then used to coach them. The methodology we have developed for this is unique to IDC and highly practical. It is based on research carried out by Terry Morgan1 and Neil Rackham which shows that any conversation can be categorised into around 15 different interactive behaviours. These fall into 2 types, which are concerned with ‘advocacy’, e.g. giving information, making suggestions, summarising, etc, and ‘enquiry’, e.g. seeking information, seeking suggestions, checking understanding, etc. It is the ‘enquiry’ behaviours which teams almost always need to be coached in to interact more effectively and enhance their problem solving capability by: listening to each other; exploring differing points of view; checking understanding; building on suggestions; etc. We have also used our interactive approach extensively in coaching leaders.

Professor Boris Groysberg has shown, Harvard Business Review, June 2012, that what he calls ’interactivity’ is critical for people to experience inclusion. He postulates that ”when a spirit of inclusion takes hold, engaged employees2 can adopt important new roles, creating content themselves and acting as brand ambassadors, thought leaders, and storytellers”. IDC’s unique interactive behaviours approach is powerful in building inclusive workplaces in which: people are more motivated and productive; problem solving is enhanced by people’s opinions and ideas being listened to and explored; talent is liberated; customer, client or service user responsiveness is enhanced. Moreover, trust ensues when leaders listen, interact and engage with staff in non-judgmental ways. The results are remarkable, Gallup’s Strengths Based Leadership research.

We have found that our interactive behaviour approach is the ‘magic bullet’ to building an inclusive, engaging organisation with high performing teams, which possess superior strategy formulation and delivery capabilities. Please get in touch if you want to know more about this highly business beneficial approach.

Dr Ian Dodds,

31 May 2013,



1Terry Morgan is a consultant who works with IDC and has drawn on his research to help us develop our highly successful interactive behaviours’ approach.

 2Readers may wish to read my paper on inclusive engagement, which is published on the Engage for Success website. The link is http://t.co/RMzV4VQJu0

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