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How to Improve Teamwork With TIPS

How to Improve Teamwork With TIPS

In less than three months, the FIFA World Cup in Russia will kick off. Chances are that after the final, not the national squad with the most glamorous star, but the one with the best team will lift World Cup. What’s true in football is true in business, too: great teamwork matters. Today, let’s look at the art of composing and developing an effective team in business with the help of TIPS, Thinkergy’s innovation people profiling method.

Introducing TIPS

TIPS is a new cognitive profiling method that I’ve created for Thinkergy. The acronym TIPS stands for four base orientations (theories, ideas, people, systems) that drive people’s behavior in life and at work. With the help of a questionnaire that probes for these four bases and for four related cognitive styles, we profile people into one of 11 innovator profiles (Theorist, Ideator, Partner, Systematizer, Conceptualizer, Promoter, Organizer, Technocrat, Coach, Experimenter and All-Rounder).


Each TIPS profile has certain natural talents and preferred styles that allow them to perform easily, effortlessly and enjoyably in certain ecosystems (industries, business functions, and organizational types). It’s similar to a position on the pitch in a football game, where certain players are born strikers, or central defenders, or goalkeepers. As in football, the challenge is to use everyone in a team to their best abilities and in ways that make the team effective — and once you know everyone’s TIPS profile, you can follow certain rules on how to best use each player and compose effective work teams.

How to strengthen teamwork in an organization with TIPS?

Teamwork is the combined action of a group of people, especially when effective or efficient. But how can we select the right players to make a business team effective and successful? And how can we develop the team as the business evolves? Here are eight recommendations on how to make everyone contribute to business success and align the players for effective and successful teamwork:

1. Make everyone play in their natural position. Imagine you were a football coach and are lucky enough to have a world-class striker in your team. Where on the pitch would you position your star player? Would you play him in central defense so that he may work on his weaknesses? Or would you rather play him in offense where he has lots of opportunities to let his talent and natural strengths shine?

Many companies and managers ask their staff to work on improving their weaknesses. I believe in the opposite strategy: Make everyone do those things that are naturally easy, effortless, enjoyable (remember the three Es) for them.

For example, Ideators like myself like to drive change and create something new out of nothing. Promoters enjoy spreading the word and creating a buzz for a new idea, brand, or trend. Partners know all about their customers’ wants and needs because they deeply care for people.


2. Use other profiles to fill in for your weaknesses.

If everyone plays on their strengths, who takes care of those weaknesses that each of us has? The profile at the opposite end of your profile on the TIPS profiling map. 
For example, when working on an innovation case, Theorists enjoy rationally scrutinizing the evidence in a case, but tend to overlook taking into account the human factor. Positioned on the diagonal opposite end of the profile map, Partners have the most intimate customer knowledge and ensure that an innovation team considers the human factor is considered, too.

3. Make the team composition fit its function. Depending on the main function that a business team performs, certain profiles tend to dominate and are more commonly found than others.

For example, in an accounting department, most team members are likely to be Technocrats. In contrast, Partners and Promoters tend to prominently feature in a sales team. 
Similarly, certain profiles also tend to predominate certain industries. For example, when we look at different industries, the profile that is most common in a strategy consulting company is the Conceptualizers, while managers in retail companies are often Organizers.


4. Balance a team with complementary profiles. Because certain profiles tend to dominate in a particular business function or industry, it is important to counterbalance the team with other profiles that support the majority and cover their weaknesses.

For example, every sales team should have at least one Technocrat or Systematizer who makes sure that call reports are written, entries are accurately entered into an order system, and sales numbers are tracked and regularly discussed in a weekly sales pipeline meeting. Or to a consultant team full of big picture Conceptualizers on the road from client to client, add an Organizer to make sure that schedules are coordinated and kept, travel arrangements are booked and changed, and time sheets and expenditure sheets are filed in a timely way.

5. Bridge gaps between opposites. In football, the midfielders act as connectors between defenders and strikers. In business, you may likewise use neighboring profiles to bridge a divide between teams that are operating on opposite frequencies.

For example, many new innovation projects or marketing initiatives (driven by Ideators or Promoters) in banking nowadays get vetoed by officers in the compliance team (who are often Systematizers). Here, a Partner may act as ambassador to moderate the conflict between the sides by finding the lowest common denominator between the interest of the business side (bring in new revenues through innovation and new client acquisition) and compliance (mitigate legal risks, ensure compliance to regulatory requirements such as KYC (know your customer)).

6. Balance complementing energies in a start-up venture. Most successful start-ups have a leadership team that balances three or even four different energies.

For example, an ideal team for a tech start-up may comprise an inspiring Promoter as a CEO, a hands-on Organizer as a COO, a number-crunching Technocrat as a CFO, and a geeky Conceptualizer as a CTO. If the venture consists of a leadership triangle, a good combination may be an Ideator as CEO, a partner as Head of Sales, and a Systematizer as COO/CFO.


7. Change the captain as your business moves into a new cycle phase. A venture moves through different corporate life cycle stages: first, creating a new product; launching and promoting the product; growing sales and customer relations; organizing the back-office to accommodate strong growth; creating stable systems and processes to consolidate the business; leveraging a business through modifications to product niches and adaptations to local markets; and finally, starting a new cycle through a new major product creation initiative.

If you want to move to the next cycle phases, strengthen the profile that naturally drives this phase: Ideators in product creation, Promoters in launch, Partners for sales activities, Organizers to solidify the back-office, Systematizers to set-up efficient processes and systems, and Experimenters to twist and modify products.

An alternative approach related to the quadrangular leadership team mentioned in the previous point, first have the CTO drive product development, then let the CEO lead the market introduction phase, then put the COO in charge to set-up the back office organization, and finally let the CFO drive the IPO and set-up of formal systems.


8. Use All-Rounders to flexibly close gaps in the team. In almost every sports team, you find a few players that can play multiple positions in both offense and defense. While they might not be as good as the specialists, they do reliably well wherever you put them on the pitch.

In TIPS, we call such players with a balanced set of skills and cognitive styles All-Rounders. Every business, and here in particular start-ups, do well of having one or a few All-Rounders in their team, as they feel home in any type of role and can easily fill gaps if your business grows rapidly or you face a period of staff turnover.

Conclusion: “No individual can win a game by himself,” noted Pelé, the legendary Brazilian football star, three-time World Cup winner and world record holding scorer with 1,281 career goals. Often, the national team with the best teamwork wins the tournament, not the ones with one super star who everyone else follows. The famed US basketball player Michael Jordan put it this way: “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.” Composing an effective team in business is like forming a tournament-winning team in sport — and thanks to TIPS, it’s easy to create effective, focused and balanced teams for every function, industry and project in business.


Have you become curious to find out more about your TIPS innovator profile? Or would you like to learn how to improve teamwork in your business in a TIPS Innovation Profiling Workshop?  Contact us to learn more about our innovation training courses and find out how you may purchase a coupon for our TIPS online personality test.

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