5 Steps to Better Performance: Achieving Business Results Through People

Facing the storm of the current Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous (VUCA) business environment is not going to be easy. In this VUCA environment, the managers and team leaders are under constant pressure to keep their survival mode alive by fighting the fire on a regular basis. This is obviously not the best option. It is time for the managers and team leaders to move towards the growth path to Make A Difference (M.A.D.)

In my facilitation and knowledge sharing sessions, I encourage the managers and team leaders to adopt the following 5 steps process to M.A.D. in their workplace.


The steps are:


Step 1: Identify What is Working Well.

Ask each team member to identify one thing that is working well in the workplace/team. Once they complete the list, ask them to identify the contributing factors to the success of the one thing they have identified.

The success factors could include processes, mastery of skills, regular knowledge sharing sessions, the use of checklists, commitment to quality and safety, teamwork, extensive use of a buddy system, etc.


Step 2: It Would be Great, if…

Next, take them on a dream journey. Ask each one to complete the statement that states: “It would be great, if… This is a safe approach and provides the psychological comfort to team members encouraging them to seek additional opportunities to improve the work processes.

By completing the statement (it would be great, if… ) the team members are beginning to focus on activities that will add value to the organisation’s Mission, Vision & Values. If the group is small (6 or less) I repeat this step a couple more times to expand upon and capture more ideas from the team.


Step 3: Share, Sort & Prioritise the Wish List

Ask each team member to share his or her list. Pin their idea up on a board, so that everyone can see. Once they have shared their wish list that is based on “It would be great, if… “, move on to sorting and prioritising the ideas using specific criteria. Let the group sort and prioritise the findings/listings. Select 3 activities from the sorting and prioritising that will Make A Difference in the workplace.

In the absence of any specific matrix that could be used to prioritise, I ask them to consider the 80:20 Pareto Principle. This is an efficiency-focused strategy that will get us more with less effort.


Step 4: Connect the Dots Between Steps 1 and 3

Encourage the group to revisit the list that was prepared as part of step 1 on things that are working well and the contributing factors to their success. Let the team explore how the success factors can be integrated to enable the top 3 “It Would be Great, If… ” statements from the wish list to come alive.

This approach is based on the assumption that people should look at their current internal best practices to close the gaps in their performance. The focus at this stage is to answer the most powerful question: How might we


Step 5: Moving Forward: How Might We

The How Might We… approach that focuses on integrating the internal best practices will become the first draft of a blueprint to move forward. At this stage, I normally ask them: And What Else… can be added to the list to make the top 3 priority bring out the result they desire. We should encourage teams to seek out best practices from elsewhere.

Remember that these 5 steps work only when the manager/team leader is ready to adopt an appreciative inquiry mind-set, acknowledging the power of team members.



John Arul, co-owner of Centre for Creative Thinking, a training agency based in Singapore ( http://www.creativityasia.com ), facilitates training workshops on creativity and related soft skills for clients in Asia and Middle East. As a Trainer, John facilitates management seminars and workshops in the areas of Creative Thinking, Supervisory Skills for new managers, EQ Skills for Team Leaders, Customer Service Excellence, Managing Difficult Customers, Communication Skills, Change Management, Personal Development Workshops, and Public Speaking Skills. He also manages a blog http://creativityasia.com/thought-leadership/ to discuss topics related to personal and professional development. John holds an MBA and majored in strategic human resource management. He is a member of the American Creativity Association.