Enabling Effectiveness: Facilitating Collaboration and Capability

January 18, 2013

Shared Purpose and Vision in Empowering Teams To Thrive

Shared Purpose and Vision in Empowering Teams to Thrive

What makes one team higher performing than another? What is it that pulls individuals together into a cohesive team, enabling them to work together more effectively? Like all successful partnerships, key ingredients of an effective team include:

  • A shared purpose
  • A compelling image of a positive future – a shared vision
  • A common understanding of what action is required to stand in purpose and realise the vision
  • Understanding each others’ motivational preferences and complimentary styles

David Cooperrider, creator of the strength-based Appreciative Inquiry methodology, coined the term “Positive Image, Positive Action”.  When we have powerful, positive images of our possibility that are aligned individually and collectively, we are compelled to take action that moves us toward the experience of what we imagine.  This in essence is the power of a meaningful purpose and an inspiring vision.  Key attributes shared by all great leaders include the ability to fuel people’s drive through the possibility of an inspiring vision and the mechanisms that enable them to feel valuable.

Research into the use of graphics or imagery in creating/assigning meaning to information reveals that the process:

info visualisation PEEST

We know from neuro-sciences that every idea or thought that we have is a mental model.  Everything we do, create, choose, act on, first starts as an anticipatory mental image.  Think now about your car … your home…. a child or friend ….something of importance to you.  You get that an image is what you notice, right?   If our mental models are strong enough, they:

  • Guide our actions and behaviour
  • Influence our communication
  • Stimulate mental connections
  • Engage our physiology (horror movie…racing heart-beat….get the picture?)

Our brains filter information based on our mental models and what we are focusing on.   Visually representing the team’s strategy and referring to it often in communications, conversations and other business activities will strengthen the team’s association with and connection to its purpose, vision and objectives.  Most powerfully, it will  create a collective mental model within the team that generates focus, clarity and energy for the intended journey.

Most businesses have a purpose or mission statement, a vision, and a set of objectives for achieving the vision.   Rarely do they nurture mechanisms that enable teams to determine and develop the link between those statements and their own purpose and vision.  Mostly, the objectives are translated into targets which become the springboard from which operational activity takes place and is evaluated.

Focusing purely on driving targets can become meaningless, as can a company vision perceived as being imposed, and since we humans are meaning-making beings, this could translate into less than inspiring cultures and sub-optimal performance.

The most successful visions build on the individual and collective visions of  employees across the company.  Shared vision reflects shared purpose, and both are important for motivating people to learn and collaborate as they create a common identity that fuels focus, connectedness and energy. This strengthens the probability that team members will be more committed to outcomes, work together more effectively and share ownership for making things happen.


Another important consideration in enabling a team to elevate its capacity to achieve its vision and to contribute organisation value, involves harnessing and aligning individual traits.  For example, the Disney strategy of Dreamer, Realist and Critic aligns glass half full and glass half empty people, as well as big picture and detail oriented people.  Aligning individual styles and motivational preferences will help to address the unconscious patterns in people that could lead to sabotaging behaviour.

The process of discovering a purpose and birthing a vision together, enables team members to internalise their connectedness and goals, and forms a platform for focused team activity.


Article written by Vasintha Pather.  Thanks Dr Sally Vanson for your input and insights 🙂

Copyright Inter-Arise Facilitation Solutions (Pty) Ltd

The Visionary Teams Workshop:

 ‘Visionary Teams’ is an inspiring workshop for your team to co-create its vision and focus for the year ahead.  Using interactive and collaborative processes,  inter-arise facilitates a half-day workshop with your team to:

  • Engage around a shared purpose
  • Co-create a vision that is meaningful and inspiring
  • Identify the building blocks that will enable success
  • Align the differences in the team to maximize success

At the end of the workshop, we produce a visual representation of your team’s strategy that will serve as a powerful resource to strengthen connection with, and evaluation of, the strategy through the year.

e-mail or to enquire further and/or to set up a conversation


December 12, 2012

Connectedness and Effectiveness in Business

Connectedness and Effectiveness in Business

Recently, as a speaker at the Association of Change Management Professionals (ACMP) conference, I shared the latest research relating to social connectedness, a particular passion-topic of mine, and indeed, what inter-arise’s value is really all about.  Companies have spent, and still do spend, an extraordinary amount of time and resources focusing on individual development and although this is of course necessary, I think we mostly ignore the rest of the equation which is why our talent optimisation and organisation effectiveness sums don’t often add up.   What I mean, is that we ignore the collective – team – development, which is the missing step in achieving shared effectiveness.

Here’s some of the research that I shared at the conference:

People who perceive themselves to be socially connected – have a strong internal sense of belonging and in social relationship with the social world –  are generally better able to manage their own emotions and display higher levels of inter-personal trust.  Interestingly they also tend to have stronger immune function.

On the other end of the spectrum, people who perceive themselves to be socially disconnected appear to be more prone to depression, anxiety and low self-esteem.  They are also a risk factor for a number of illnesses and forms physiological dis-ease.

Scary when we consider how small the relative effort is that organisations in general direct at focused team wellbeing and effectiveness, when what the research is clearly indicating, and indeed what we already instinctively understand, is that the more supported and healthily connected we are to others, the happier and healthier we actually are…..and of course the more motivated and effective we can be.

At an individual level, here’s some fascinating information revealed through the field of Psycho-Neuro-Immunology, about the immune health of a positive vs a negative mind-state:

Positive vs Negative mind states and Immune Function

In an environment of high stress, demotivation and low gratification, the physiology of the individuals experiencing this can be negatively impacted.  If this is compounded by a culture in which support and team cohesion is lacking, this makes for an extremely unhealthy environment.  The PNI research  shows that cognitive function becomes less effective in a stressful, demotivating environment.   So, companies should be aware that performance too will be negatively affected no matter how many carrots or sticks are dangled.

Our cultures need to begin supporting people differently, in a healthier, more holistic way for the good of both individuals as well as teams.  This is how we will begin bringing about true organisation effectiveness.

“Collective consciousness in everyday life: A functioning collective consciousness is recognizable in many settings—in relationships, classrooms, groups and organizations, communities, nations, and increasingly in the overall human family. Although subtle and easy to overlook, collective consciousness is a pervasive and powerful force in our everyday lives”

– Duane Elgin


The Marikana Mirror

At the end of October 2012, Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS) hosted a panel discussion on what Marikana and consequent events mean for South African industrial relations.  The title was “Marikana – A Turning Point in South Africa’s Industrial Relations”, and interestingly, what crystallized instead was the appreciation that rather than a turning point, Marikana is really a mirror, a reflection of who we are as a nation and how we engage people.

Some of my key take-aways from this most valuable and important discussion, I would like to share with you as they apply to all of business.  What was most moving, given the shocking tragedy that was Marikana, was the positive and uplifting possibilities that our national mirror could reflect instead.  If we focus on strengthening  connectedness and dialogue with the intent of generating solutions out of collaboration, we could begin to see a very different reflection in the mirror.

Leaders need to become more aware of making their vision more accessible and visible within the broader organisation.  Fostering a shared vision is a powerful way of engaging people.

Skill people up and prepare them to have tough conversations.  We have to answer the question “What are we prepared to give?” in order to generate a more engaged, progressive and supported workforce.

We must acknowledge and meaningfully engage the inter-dependencies between people and teams, and indeed companies and institutions.  Marikana has shown us just how intimately components of broader economic and social systems are integrated into peoples’ experience and expectation, and that it is a mistake to deal with them as separate and disconnected.

Be clear and honest about what the issues are and demonstrate a clear way forward that people can relate to, and participate in meaningfully.

I loved this one, and was inspired by the excitement and energy in the room at its mention.  Above all else who are we and what do we want to create as a nation?  Above all else we are Team SA.  We must begin to hold ourselves high in this intent and start shaping solutions and contexts as Team SA, rather than with an attitude that we cannot make a difference.


We are at a stage where it is paramount to develop skills in collaboration, stakeholder relationship management and dialogue.  Being able to listen, understand, share, respond and collaborate in creating solutions are what will enable us to flourish in a healthier, more sustainable way for the good of Team SA.


It has been a tough and extremely growth-oriented year for many.  So many lessons, and in them, such opportunity for us to expand as human beings for a higher purpose,  for the good of many.

From us at inter-arise, we wish you an incredibly joyous festive season, we  thank you for your connection and support during the years past and those ahead, and we trust that 2013 will be a year of sharing, supporting and strengthening together.



What’s happening at inter-arise

Our next session is on the 20th December 2012 from 14:00 to 16:00.

For those of us in the office next week, join inter-arise at Wakaberry Frozen Yoghurt Bar at Lonehill Shopping Centre for a couple of hours of delicious, festive indulgence as well as sharing interesting information on “the science of connecting – what the latest research reveals”.
The yoghurt’s on us :).

Please e-mail if you will be joining us.



Our 3 day “Art of Group Facilitation” training workshop will be held from the 27th February to the 01st March 2013. This programme is accredited by the Services SETA at NQF Level 5.   It is a wonderfully enriching experience designed to develop a deep understanding of how to practically engage people in collaboratively developing solutions and achieving objectives.
Please e-mail to book or enquire.

Click here for more information about the workshop


A group coaching programme for Women in Leadership Development.   W.I.L.D. Wisdom is a platform for women in business to come together to support each other in generating and sustaining meaningful results rooted in connection, collaboration and contribution.  Positive results are experienced at the levels of individual, team and organisation as relationships improve, people communicate more effectively, support grows, personal development grows and overall effectiveness is enhanced across the organisation.  Contact Vasintha for more information.



A process designed to strengthen team effectiveness by stimulating enquiry into the elements that make for an effective team.  Engaging, challenging, and results-oriented.  The process has 3 steps: 1. We agree the purpose and outcomes of the process; 2.  The team play The Collaboration Game and through it generate various learnings, insights and agreements; and 3. We facilitate a planning workshop to explore key insights and to agree actions and commitments that will strengthen the team’s performance and cohesiveness.



Contact inter-arise to purchase your workshop graphic-kits, or to have a workshop custom-designed for you with a set of graphic templates.
Graphic suites contain:
Facilitator Guide detailing all you need to know to run the workshop effectively;
Workshop Design including Agenda and Handouts;
Graphic Templates.

ALSO…Contact us to facilitate or record your workshop graphically.

Click here for more information




August 24, 2011

Collaborate or Die

Filed under: Blog,Newsletter — admin @ 2:06 pm

Article by: Vasintha Pather, August 2011


Most leaders agree that effective collaboration is more important than ever in today’s fast-paced, ever-changing business environment. In a reality where information, technology and markets are accessible, changing and advancing at warp speed it takes ongoing team collaboration to produce innovative, efficient and targeted results.

This from Harvard Business Review:

“Collaboration curves hold the potential to mobilize larger and more diverse groups of participants to innovate and create new value…  [R]apid leaps in performance improvement arise as participants get better faster by working with others. These leaps in performance describe the shape and power of the collaboration curve…and explains why the whole of us…can often be greater than the sum of our parts.” Harvard Business Review, April 2009.

…and this from IBM:

“To make the most of growth opportunities and unlock the potential of the workforce, CHROs [Chief HR Officers] will need to focus on three areas they say are highly important, but currently beyond their ability to achieve: developing future leaders, rapidly developing workforce skills and capabilities, and fostering knowledge-sharing and collaboration.

…Across the workforce capabilities CHROs evaluated…they rated their organizations as least effective in fostering collaboration and knowledge sharing.”  IBM, Insights From The Global CHRO Study 2010.

Given our whirlwind global business environment, the delivery quality and agility that best practice insights indicate businesses need to quickly cultivate in order to stay in the game, and the capability conundrum that we in Africa appear particularly beset by, we could comfortably agree that the very survival of a company may depend on how well it creates and sustains a culture of collaboration

Companies able to optimally integrate the potential of their people and the quality of the talent they possess, with their ability to develop and share their knowledge, skills and resources across the organization, are the companies that will continue to flourish.

Our work at inter-arise is focused on coaching teams in being effective – as a team – through strengthening the ways in which they cooperate, communicate and deepen collective capability.  We find that the primary barriers a team is up against in its efforts to become a collective de force include the proverbial “silo” that still pervades the cultural and structural systems of too many organisations, inconsistent application of collaborative approaches and tools that stimulate innovation and encourage cooperation, reinforcing perceived divides between management and “employees”, business and IT etc, limited mentoring and coaching initiatives, and weak knowledge management.

Enlightening bodies of work from authors such as Daniel Goleman (Emotional Intelligence) and Daniel Pink (Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates People) importantly highlight the consciousness landscape of those we regard as our talent.  The works of authors such as these clearly highlight that (a) people who fulfill roles that require even low levels of cognitive complexity are increasingly looking for purposeful environments in which they are able to make meaningful contributions; and that (b) organisations that support the emotional wellbeing of their people have a more resourceful workforce and produce better results.

Talent retention requires a collaborative environment.  Collaboration enables individuals to contribute their own personal value in creating shared outcomes and due to its socially supportive nature it also has the effect of enhancing positive emotions and wellbeing which leads to strengthening shared knowledge and capability.

The long and short of it is that businesses must look deeply into their systems and cultures and begin to intentionally cultivate cooperative ways of working if they want to flourish.  Collaboration allows companies to harness collective intelligence through optimising the value of their resources, capabilities and experiences throughout the organisation.   It accelerates knowledge development, process optimisation, innovation and agility; and importantly it supports the desire in each of us to be meaningful.

March 16, 2011

Successful Organisation Development

Filed under: Blog — admin @ 3:05 pm

Adaptability has become a key organisational competency in almost every sector.  Being adapt-able requires focus, awareness, unity in approach and collaboration.

inter-arise is collaborating with accsys to host a series of master classes that are designed to facilitate deepening understanding of and capability in Organisation Development.

We will be interactively exploring the key components of OD as well as practical ways in which to strengthen organisation resourcefulness to adapt to and benefit from change.  This powerful series contains eight 2-hour workshops and will commence on the 22nd March 2011.  Materials and refreshments will be provided.

Details of the first 4 master classes below.

January 20, 2011

The Power of Visual Language

Filed under: Blog — admin @ 9:56 am

“The Power of Visual Language: A Handbook for the Visual Facilitator”. Hot off the press and now available for purchase.  R 229.00 excluding VAT.

Free postage anywhere in South Africa for single copies. Delivery costs will apply for bulk orders.

Please e-mail or send a comment (below) for your copy.

Click the link below for a taste of the handbook.

The Power of Visual Language – sample

September 9, 2010

The Fascination of Groups

Filed under: Blog,Team Effectiveness — admin @ 6:11 pm

team star

Group work is truly fascinating.  The group mind principle states that multiple minds focused on the same theme create a mutual force that is not merely additive, but vastly more powerful than an individual or a group of individuals.  A huge amount of “new age” information is now available on the power that the individual has to influence his/her reality.  What we are not spending sufficient time focusing on right now is the power of the collective.  Since thought is energy let’s consider group-thought for a moment in relation to just two physics principles:

a) Energy is gravitational therefore it is accumulative;

b) Energy is magnetic therefore it is attractive.

Working with a group of people, and specifically facilitating a workshop with them around a shared objective or theme presents mind-wonderful-blowing suggestions.  The focused thought of each individual in the group contributes to a group force.  The extent to which individuals – and the group – are emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually engaged with the objective of the process will determine the quality of the energetic force they are producing and therefore the quality of the group force.

The stronger and more coherent the group force, the greater the magnetic and gravitational qualities…….the greater the combining of forces to create the intended outcomes !

Vasintha Pather, May 2010

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