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Wishing all your teams were high-performing? | Issue #107


Are some of the teams in your business more successful than others?  Ever wondered why and wished all your teams could be high performing?  Then listen and learn from Google, who spent years studying high performing teams.  Let’s face it – they’re not short of smart people.  But even they were having issues over differences in team performance. 

Google’s ‘Project Aristotle’ was a quest to figure out what makes a team click.  It’s interesting to start by looking at the factors they discovered didn’t make a difference—seniority and length of experience at Google, for example.  Most people would think this would play a role, but it didn’t.  Similarly, team size wasn’t a factor.  They studied a variety of different sized teams, from 3 to 50 members, and it made little to no difference.  Whether they sat together in an office or were scattered also had little effect, which is reassuring given how many teams are working remotely now. And decision-making didn’t need to be consensus-driven.  In other words, they didn’t need to agree with each other.  Fascinating stuff.

Above all, they discovered it didn’t matter who was on the team.  Far more important was how the team worked and interacted together.  So, you can have as many ‘A-Players’ as you like – if they don’t get on, the team is doomed.   
 So how can you influence this?  How do you build a high-performance team?

How To Be More Pirate with Sam Conniff and Alex Barker

What did Steve Jobs and Blackbeard have in common? According to Sam Conniff, they were both pirates. Why would Sam know this? Because he wrote the bestselling book – Be More Pirate in 2018, and was amazed when it inspired a global movement. 

From Tate & Lyle to Mercedes Benz, financiers to farmers, CEOs to students, some of the biggest brands around the world, including our very own NHS, have taken heed of Sam’s message, created a pirate crew and rewritten the existing rules.  Because that is what being a pirate is all about. Pirates don’t just break the rules, they rewrite them. Pirates don’t just reject society, they reinvent it. And pirates don’t just challenge the status quo, they change it. 

“It’s now more of a global social movement and a method and a way of creating change within organisations.”

The network that has grown up around Sam’s book recognises that too many of the rules, norms and conventions that uphold our systems and business models no longer serve people and planet; we need to create new ones.

“Being more pirate is a shift in your mindset; a willingness to think differently, to challenge and be challenged, and to stop asking for permission to do what you know is right.”

In this episode, Sam and newly appointed Right Hand Pirate, Alex Barker, share the 5 Rs framework which helps mutineers become more pirate. As well as that, Alex talks about how she takes this framework and uses it to run workshops and help people who are searching for change.


Same is Lame. Word of mouth is the most effective way to grow any business. But to get people talking, you must do one thing different; something that they do NOT expect. That conversation-starter is called a Talk Trigger. Each week on The Talk Triggers Show, best-selling author and hall of fame keynote speaker Jay Baer unveils a fast, fun, and most of all unexpected tale of a business that does something distinctly unusual and creates new customers as a result. Every show is just 6 minutes long—perfect for binging. It’s inspirational, educational, thought-provoking, and often hilarious. If you own or manage a business (large or small), you’ll love it.


As companies debate whether or not to bring employees back to the office full-time, they scramble to refine their remote work policies. 
One company they could learn a lot from: Google. Chief executive Sundar Pichai recently announced that because of the Covid-19 pandemic, Google would extend its work from home policy until at least July 2021. That’s a telling decision considering that Google quite possibly has access to some of the richest data sets in the world.


Do you believe that constant stress is unavoidable? Good for performance? Actually, neither is true. Liam, a telecom executive, has been a critical player in scaling a new business from zero to US$300 million in five years. He’s widely recognised in the organisation as a high performer. When we started working together, however, he told me he was always in reactive mode – jumping into action without thinking through details or identifying priorities. He never felt fully present and his mind was always racing, especially at night. Despite all his accomplishments and accolades, he had an inferiority complex and avoided asking for help. Life, in his words, felt very transactional. Welcome to the modern-day version of survival.


Business executives could learn a lot from cheetahs, Earth’s most agile land animals. Though their ancestors ran only about 20 miles per hour, today’s cats can accelerate from zero to 60 within three seconds — faster than a Corvette Twin Turbo or a Ferrari Enzo. But speed alone is not what makes cheetahs such awesome hunters. Computer models show that the best predictor of a successful hunt is not a cheetah’s top speed; rather, it’s how fast it stops and turns.


Ken Blanchard’s Leading at a Higher Level techniques are inspiring thousands of leaders to build high-performing organizations that make life better for everyone. Now, Blanchard and WD-40 Company leader Garry Ridge reveal how WD-40 has used Blanchard’s techniques of Partnering for Performance with every employee – achieving levels of engagement and commitment that have fortified the bottom line. Ridge introduces WD-40 Company’s year-round performance review system, explaining its goals, features, and the cultural changes it requires. Next, he shares his leadership point of view: what he expects of people, what they can expect of him, and where his beliefs about leadership and motivation come from. Finally, Ken Blanchard explains why WD-40 Company’s Partnering for Performance system works so well – and how to leverage its high-value techniques in your organization.


Artificial intelligence does the seemingly impossible, magically bringing machines to life – driving cars, trading stocks, and teaching children. But facing the sea change that AI will bring can be paralyzing. How should companies set strategies, governments design policies, and people plan their lives for a world so different from what we know? In the face of such uncertainty, many analysts either cower in fear or predict an impossibly sunny future. But in Prediction Machines, three eminent economists recast the rise of AI as a drop in the cost of prediction. With this single, masterful stroke, they lift the curtain on the AI-is-magic hype and show how basic tools from economics provide clarity about the AI revolution and a basis for action by CEOs, managers, policy makers, investors, and entrepreneurs. Penetrating, fun, and always insightful and practical, Prediction Machines follows its inescapable logic to explain how to navigate the changes on the horizon. The impact of AI will be profound, but the economic framework for understanding it is surprisingly simple.



If you’re trying to avoid ‘group-think’ in your team, consider appointing a devil’s advocate each time you’re discussing a proposal or project. It’s that person’s job to test the consensus by challenging the evidence that’s put forward.  Whatever’s presented, the devil’s advocate should take the opposite view (even if they don’t believe this view themselves).  It’s like being on the school debating team.   The idea of a devil’s advocate originated in the Catholic Church – before they canonise a saint, they ask for someone to step forward to test the evidence to ensure it remains robust.  Famously, Christopher Hitchens played devil’s advocate in the canonisation of Mother Theresa of Calcutta.

Upcoming Events

Megabuyte Virtual CEOSummit 13-15 & 20-22 October 2020

As well as Keynote speeches and panel sessions this CEOSummit also incorporates Q4 Barometer webinars.

Scaling Up Business Growth Workshop, Monkhouse & Company, Salisbury – 3 November 2020

When the going gets tough, attitude trumps everything. Don’t let COVID-19 beat you into the ground and take your business. Treat this pandemic as an accelerator. The “one thing” you’ve been looking for to pivot, re-evaluate or simply get shit done. Join us on our farm in Wiltshire to walk through our Scaling Up growth programme.

Acetech Summit, Whistler – April 2021 (re-scheduled)

An exclusive annual gathering of high-growth tech CEOs. This powerful three-day summit will transform how you define success and deliver growth in 2020 and beyond.

Quote of the week

‘Remember, teamwork begins by building trust.  And the only way to do that is to overcome our need for invulnerability.’ 

Patrick Lencioni

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