In a few years, I’ll be able to tell my kids that I was one of 61,004 fans who crammed into Olympic Stadium last April to cheer on the Montreal Impact in the Champions League finals. We didn’t win, of course, but I still got the opportunity to see two excellent teams play a great game – and to let my thoughts wander.
I asked myself how a team like the Impact – a clear underdog at the start of the competition – had managed to eliminate several much stronger teams (at least on paper) and to draw over 60,000 people to one place, including one of them (myself) who was willing to pay over $60 on the black market for standing-room tickets.
That’s when I began reflecting on the importance of properly evaluating your team.
The next morning at the office, Camille and I had fun analyzing this case and making parallels with organizational diagnosis.
Whether you’re looking at a sports team or a company, the dreams and objectives – whether big or small – are basically the same. There are two things to keep in mind: where you’re starting from and where you want to go. Just like good coaches must do with their team, good managers have to properly diagnose their organization before initiating a plan to achieve their business goals. That’s what Impact coach Frank Klopas did when he took over the reins of a team that had just lost several of its managers. And in the end, he brought them all the way to the Champions League finals! There’s no doubt that his diagnosis of the situation served him well in his mission to propel the team to the highest echelons, no matter the starting point.
Diagnosing an organization is important, and not only when things go wrong. A good diagnosis tells you what you’re missing in order to reach your objectives, but more importantly, it highlights the strengths you can rely on as an organization. In our opinion, this is where the appreciative approach comes in. Is there any better ROI than putting your efforts into tasks that you like and that you’re good at? Useable in any context, the appreciative approach helps you concentrate on your skills and what sets you apart. So instead of asking yourself “what’s the problem” or “what’s going wrong”, you’ll be asking “what are our successes”, “what have we learned” and “what are the opportunities today.” This allows you to move forward with a positive outlook, and it’s also an excellent way to connect with people and get them to be engaged as a team.
From the soccer field to the office, every team wants to win its own Champions League. We all have opponents to measure up against, and the rules of the game are always changing. Nevertheless, the important thing is to keep playing as a team by focusing on what every player can contribute.
So what about you: do you know your strengths?
“Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.”– Henry Ford