Sunday, June 23, 2019

Coaching tool: The ORG team building model

How do you build high performing teams? In this article, I will describe the three-factor model which can help focus your attention.

The model is extremely simple to memorize, although it requires a lot of thought and attention to practice.

The model

Outcomes, Relationships and Growth are highly interrelated: Poor relationships lead to poor outcomes, whereas good outcomes bond the team, and growth is usually required to get the next great otucome.
It's impossible to separate the three, although managers often focus solely on process and outcome - a huge mistake!


Future outcomes are goals or side effects, and past outcomes would classify as achievements or failures.
With a new team, we have a couple goals. By turning them into results, we create a basis for inspection and adaption.

We can look at outcomes in many ways, just to name a few examples:
  1. Performance: Value, Customer Satisfaction, Quality, ROI
  2. Process: Behaviours, Practices, Tools, Flow
  3. People: Mindset, Expertise, Happiness, Teamwork, Relationships (there we go, recursion!)
One important side note on process outcomes: Dysfunctional behavior is most often an indicator of at least one dysfunctional relationship, which is why behaviour (both of the person and the system) is classified as an "outcome".


Relationships are the basis of every group effort. Healthy relationships propel performance, whereas unhealthy relationships constantly divert attention away from outcomes. Therefore, investing into healthy relationships both within and around the team is essential to success.

We can also look at relationships in different ways, here again some examples:

  1. Trust: Reliability, Confidence, Mutuality
  2. Psychological Safety: Addressing and resolving conflicts, allowing vulnerability, permitting mistakes
  3. Collaboration: Commitment, Teamwork, addressing weaknesses and being supportive
Creating and growing a base of trust can be done by setting common goals (ref. "Outcomes") and achieving them together. 


As a wise person once told me, "We are all where we are, who we are and what we are. Growth is a lifelong process, but not everybody grows. Wouldn't it be sad to stand in front of the grave of an 80-year-old person and the inscription read: No growth. This person hasn't grown in the last 50 years?"

Growth areas we can look into might be:

  1. Organizational: Team, Company, Market
  2. Personal: Skills, Understanding, Social
  3. Professional: Salary, networking (see - we have relationships again!), achievements (and there's outcomes!)

Healthy growth picks up people where they are, happens at a pace people can bear with, and helps them move into a direction they want to be.

Time orientation

The model is applied differently in past, present and future orientation.


Since a new team starts with a future, we'll look at the future first:

  1. What will be the desirable and probable outcomes of our actions?
  2. Which relationships would we want to have (within and outside the team)?
  3. In which areas do we want to grow?
Even this can be separated into subsets of Near Future, Mid-Term and Distant Future.


In the present, a possible set of questions would be:
  1. Which outcomes are we currently working towards and what are we getting?
  2. Which positive and negative aspects do our relationships have?
  3. In which direction are we growing and where should we be growing?


The past helps us understand why we are where we currently are:
  1. Which outcomes did we get, which were desirable and which not?
  2. Why are our relationships the way they are?
  3. Where did we grow and where didn't we?
Analyzing the past is about finding change potential to move into a better direction from now on, so while positive aspects help us identify drivers, negative aspects help us identify areas with need of attention.

How to use the ORG model

As a process

The meta process is quite simple and contains an infinite loop:
  1. OUTCOMES: Start by defining goals, i.e. "indended outcomes".
  2. Bring people together to achieve those goals (the team).
  3. RELATIONSHIPS: Let the people figure out how they want to achieve those goals.
  4. GROWTH: Observe where issues arise and work towards beneficial change.
  5. OUTCOMES: If goals change or new goals (e.g. growth or relationship goals) become necessary, set new goals.
  6. Repeat at 3.

In team building

When setting up a new team, remember: You have no outcomes, growth or relationships to build on yet.

  1. Define the long-term OUTCOMES for the team, i.e. "Why the team exists".
  2. Set clear, achievable short-term OUTCOMES to achieve in a short period of time.
  3. Bring the right people together and see which RELATIONSHIPS form.
    Strengthen desirable relationships.
  4. Generate team GROWTH while achieving these OUTCOMES.

I have seen great leaders define the main goal of a first iteration with a new team primarily as people outcomes: Build relationships, get to know each other and the product vision. Performance outcomes are still important, but achieving these can wait.

Inspect and Adapt

As mentioned in the "Time Dimension", we can constantly reflect on past-present and future ORG states, refocus and make adjustments as needed. A Scrum team might want to use ORG during Planning, Reviews and Retrospectives to determine a course of action, learn where they got and adjust course.


Your coaching effort can be distributed across the three different dimensions of ORG.
Ideally, you balance out all three dimensions, neglecting none.
In practice, this will be a pendulum swinging between all three, and the one with the least attention is the most likely to become your next problem.

As a coach, if you realize that you're neglecting one dimension, you can pro-actively plan your next steps to build a higher performing team.


Printable materials for ORG workshop facilitation can be found here: Download.


  1. Entire post really Awesome! Thank you for all the hard work you put into it.
    Team Building Singapore

  2. He leido mucho sobre los team building y este artículo la verdad es que me ha parecido muy interesante y completo