The Best Software Tester in the World?

Attention to detailIf you ask ten testers to each test something, you will typically see a varied amount of defects detected. This will still be the case if all of the testers had exactly the same experience and testing knowledge. This is quite often down to how focused the tester is when looking at something (attention to detail). While at first glance something may look good, but on closer inspection, defects can be seen. Attention to detail is what makes a great tester stand out from a good tester.DiplomacyDuring the day-to-day tasks a software tester has, there will invariably come a time when the tester needs to converse with others, more often than not with software developers. When speaking to a developer about a bug they found, the tester must always bear in mind, that they are essentially finding fault in that developer’s work. Diplomacy skills are a key asset to any software tester as they are paramount in building and maintaining a healthy working relationship with the development team. A poor relationship between software testers and developers can negatively impact any software development and place unnecessary risk on the project.


Quick LearnerSoftware testers that work for outsourced QA companies will often find themselves switching between a huge variety of projects, which today may include web, mobile, smart products and wearable tech. Being able to ramp-up on a product saves precious time during a development life-cycle. Sometimes software will need to be tested that has no documentation. Therefore, the software tester needs to be able to explore the software and quickly extract the information they need. This key information may be used to create a test plan, a set of test cases or QA estimate.PassionateIt is easy to spot software testers that are passionate about the software they are testing. They typically find more defects and they show enthusiasm during meetings for not only the product they are testing, but also for software testing in general. Clients are much more likely to re-hire software testers that are enthusiastic about their product. On the flip side, software testers that show no enthusiasm quickly stand-out and it invariably shows in the quality of their QA work.Business OrientedA great software tester can see the product as whole and take on the mind-set of the intended audience. This skill is extremely useful in reporting issues that may otherwise be found by the end users after the product’s release. Another aspect of business orientation is the ability to understand why a certain functionality is being introduced, and applying this knowledge to their testing. This information can enhance the testing being performed and provide a richer set of results. A tester should also be able to appreciate that deadlines need to be met(and as is often the case) may result in a reduced amount of time for QA. Being flexible and understanding of the business impact of the deadline of a release is extremely important to the relationship of the test team with the rest of the product stakeholders.


ConclusionThere is no specific criteria as to what makes the best software in the world, as each company, or project may have a different requirement or goal as to what they want the software tester to achieve. Our QA team’s experience of testing a wide variety of software products for clients all over the globe has given us great insight as to what kind of testers we needed to make those projects a success.

Create, Build a Winning Team

There are certain points that every team manager and team player must stick to for the greater interest of the team as a whole.

This makes a team stand out and perform to impeccably.

Good leader & a great manager

“Leaders are people who do the right thing; managers are people who do things right.”

~ Warren G Bennis.

Leadership is all about creating a compelling vision of the future, translating and communicating that vision, and helping people understand and abide by it.

Managers, on the other hand, are responsible for ensuring that the vision is implemented efficiently and successfully.

A team leader has to have a right mix of both these skills.

Delegation is the key word

No matter how skilled you are, there’s only so much you can achieve working on your own. With a team behind you, you can achieve so much more: that’s why it’s so important that you delegate effectively.

Being absolutely aware of each member’s ability to deliver and rightly delegating work for effective deliverance.

Motivation is another benchmark

The challenge as a team leader is find effective ways to keep a team motivated.

Good communications with every team member, being the perfect front man for the team are few things that can keep any team motivated.

Remember a de-motivated team can do nothing, even if each single team member may have loads of prospect.

Handling team members

It requires special skills to communicate effectively with each and every team member with varied kinds of temperament and character types.

There are various kinds of people, some are a wee bit aggressive, some too passive, some are overly enthusiastic yet un-realistic and some think they are catalysts of change.

With all these types the team has to perform to perfection and deliver excellence. It is the skill of the manager/leader to communicate the team goal effectively to each member and ensure that the team functions together.

Being their speaker

The team leader is the front man of the team and he/she has to effectively co ordinate with the stakeholders to ensure what they want.

The better you communicate with your stakeholders, the easier it will be for you to translate the team goal to your team.

It is also your responsibility to safeguard your team from excess pressure and other external challenges.

A ready reckoner for every team leader

  • Be a perfect leader and a manager of your team
  • Create the right mix of being the leader and the person who manages the show
  • Delegate work effectively
  • Keep every member motivated, the team functions better
  • Learn the art of handling different kinds of team members
  • Be their speaker, mentor and coach too

The spirited team player

The leader/manager has the responsibility of a leading and managing the team but the onus of performance lies with each and every member of the team.

Every institution prefers to employ candidates who are good and effective team players. Now what makes one a good team player. The following skills sets will enable you to be the perfectly spirited and performing team player.

Reliability and flexibility

As a team player you must be flexible in your ability to function and deliver as wanted by your team leader in the greater interest of the team as a whole.

Your ability to deliver will ties you in a bond of reliability with other team members and the team leader.

Be a part of the solution not the problem

A good team player has the ability to perform under stressful conditions. Rather than pondering over the problem, you will be marked higher if you can act together with the team and troubleshoot to a solution. Evert team leader prefers team players who have the ability to find solutions.

Treat others respectfully and create a harmony in the team

It is an absolute no for team player to be doing things that may hurt the larger interest of the team or threaten to create a disharmony in the team. A good team member reflects the ability to bond with the team and perform in harmony. Respecting others and being disciplined is also another essential quality of a team player.

An active listener

A good listener is always preferred over a poor listener. If you do not listen with awareness you will not be able to receive what your team leader has to instruct. If that happens then the functionality of the team as a whole suffers. Being an ardent listener solves lots of problems and saves time too.

Try to communicate with ease

Every team needs people who speak up and express their thoughts and ideas clearly, directly, honestly, and with respect for others and for the work of the team.

That’s what it means to communicate constructively. Such a team member does not refrain from making a point but makes it in the most respectful and amicable manner possible – in a positive, confident manner.

The ‘Make it happen’ type

Good team players are essentially active participants. They come well prepared for team meetings, listen, and speak up in discussions.

They’re fully engaged in the work of the team and do not sit passively on the sidelines. This keeps the player and other members of the team motivated too. He/she is a valuable asset for any team.

Types of team members

1-The perennial yes man

A person who always agree to everything which is proposed or discussed. A person who will agree to opposite sides of the agreements. He/she is either not assertive, avoids conflict or wants to be friends with everybody.

His popular response ” Good idea – Excellent plan”

  • How to manage these: Use them to kick start the meeting as they are excellent as cheer leaders and can draw the shy members to contribute.

Types of team members

2-The Negative Person

It doesn’t matter how many hard facts are behind a suggestion, this pessimist will be negative about an idea. The good news is that this team member does usually come up with good alternatives. He/she most used phrase is ‘This won’t work’

  • How to manage these: Treat this team member with tolerance and patience and ask them give the logic for their belief. Also do not ask them to give their opinion first.

Types of team members

3. The Workhorse

The workhorse is the person who could end up doing all the real work, once he reveals himself to other team members. As a team manager, you’ll have to keep an eye out for this possibility. There is a danger (if a workhorse is detected) that the team will pile all the work onto the workhorse, and the workhorse will burn out.

Usual response from a workhorse: “I’ll do that if you don’t have time.”

  • How to manage a workhorse: If you notice somebody volunteering to take on the work of his fellow team members a little too much, you should step in. By allowing the team to take advantage of one member, you will run the risk of letting the entire team fall apart. In the end, nothing will be accomplished.

Types of Team Members

4. The Flash-in-the-Pan

A flash-in-the-pan starts out full of energy and optimism at the team’s initial meeting, then disappears from sight. He volunteers a lot–then doesn’t follow through.

Popular response from the flash-in-the-pan: (On the first day) ” I would like to take responsibility for these”

  • How to manage a flash-in-the-pan: The flash-in-the-pan volunteers and is very enthusiastic the first day or initially but disappears after making male excuses. Should never be trusted with the critical roles. Best used for back support roles. To avoid this, you should keep an eye out for somebody who volunteers for too many roles on the first day. Make sure the job assignments are equitable and manageable.

Follow these to be a valuable team player

  • Be flexible when it comes to team affairs and exhibit traits so others can rely on you
  • Do not be the mess-maker, be the solution provider
  • Treat others with respect and be in your best behaviour
  • Do not create disharmony in team affairs, do not try to be different without a cause
  • Be an active listener
  • Communicate with confidence and with ease.
  • Be an active participant in all team affairs

Good leaders and good players make a good team

Just like you need good team leaders/managers for every team to perform, you must have effective team players who stick to the rules and perform top perfection. Only then can you have a team that keeps delivering excellence every day. The above mentioned guideline will enable team leaders to be great frontend of their team and team players will be able to function in perfect harmony

How To Grow A Self Managing Team

Growing a Self-Managing Team requires a unique set of skills not normally possessed by conventional team leaders. So what does it take to grow a Self-Managing Team?

Self-Managing Teams require considerable expertise from their leaders.

Six areas of capability are required:

• Belief and Commitment
• Continuous Improvement
• Team Empowerment
• Commercial Awareness
• Team Motivation
• Growth and Development

I shall examine each in turn below.

Beliefs and Commitment

Those that grow self-managing teams are almost ‘evangelical’ in their beliefs of the benefits of self-managing teams and their commitment to these beliefs. Why? The reason is that they have worked with the conventional ‘hands-on’ style of management and seen that it simply does not produce the best results. They have seen the blockages that this style of management creates for the organisation amongst which are:

- Managers operating too much in the day to day detail as ‘super technicians’.

- Insecure managers who won’t let go of control over everything their teams do.

- Managers failing to grow themselves into bigger thinkers who can make a difference to the business.

- Managers failing to engage all the talents of the organisation’s people to continuously improve results.

- Managers failing to grow their people to realise their potential and thus achieve the organisation’s potential.

- Managers standing in the way of change.

Realising the risks of conventional approaches to the management of people those that grow self-managed teams have become convinced that there must be a better way.

A way in which:

- The full potential of team members is released.

- Freedom to act replaces frustration with management control.

- Teams are equipped to make decisions and solve problems at their level to be more accountable, and visible for the achievement of results (with resultant increase in their job satisfaction and personal motivation).

- Personal growth and development is an everyday reality.

- Insecure managers obsessed with transactional leadership are replaced with transformational managers committed to step change.

- Managers are forced to grow out of their jobs to take on more responsibility giving room for others to move up.

Because of the difference they see in this way of working they will never go back. The personal rewards and the rewards of seeing others grow are too great. That is why their beliefs and commitment to self-managing teams is so strong.

Those strong in this area of growing self-managing teams have taken onboard these truths for themselves and their way of operating reflects these core beliefs.

Those weaker in this area are either unwilling to be persuaded or worse still are holding onto a paradigm of the role of management that will eventually end in heartache for them and their people.

Continuous Improvement

At the very heart of the thinking behind Self-Managing Teams is the concept of continuous improvement. This includes:

• Business Process Improvement

• Product/Service Improvement

• Customer Satisfaction Improvement

• Financial Improvement

• People Improvement

Those that grow self-managing teams see the connection between all five and seek to facilitate the efforts of their teams towards achievement of all five, simultaneously. They are therefore skilled holistic thinkers who understand the needs of the overall business and are able to align their team’s contribution to these needs.

They not only see the big, high level picture themselves they are able to communicate this to their team in a way which elevates their importance, and reinforces the message that what it does really can make a difference. They impart this big picture thinking to their teams so that their teams can clearly see the consequences of their actions on a day to day basis and the impact on the business as a whole.

Those that grow self-managing teams are likely to be familiar with Quality Management Practices, Lean Manufacturing Techniques, the use of Six Sigma, the key elements of Business Re-engineering and Program/Project Management.

They understand that, far from constricting people, well documented, properly followed processes release their people to work on the business to make both incremental and step changes.

Those strong in this area of growing self-managing teams have taken onboard the need for their teams to have the tools and techniques to deliver business process improvement.

Those weaker in this area will not have broken out of their narrow, silo approach to operating in their given area of specialist expertise. They will not be skilled in the area of continuous improvement, lacking both the knowledge and skills of continuous improvement themselves, and making it impossible for them to pass on these skills to their teams.

For these managers continuous improvement and process re-engineering will possibly be a huge knowledge gap to fill as well as a personal motivation issue to overcome.

Team Empowerment

Team empowerment is the real essence of self-managing teams. The whole concept of self-managing teams is that of allowing a group of people to decide on their objectives and plan how best to deliver a required result and even to exceed that required result. This requires a high degree of trust from the manager growing a self-managing team who really must embrace the key elements of people empowerment:

- Fully engaging team members in the challenges before it.

- Enabling team members to perform at the highest levels by removing blockages to their efforts.

- Encouraging team members, particularly in the face of setbacks.

- Enlarging team members’ capabilities and confidence with rigorous training/coaching

- Exciting and motivating team members in the empowerment process, particularly by recognising and celebrating successes.

- Facilitating the team’s activities and adding objective insights and suggestions.

The challenge for the aspiring leader of a self-managing team is to train and trust; to let go; to allow people to learn for themselves, to force people into self-sufficiency, and to facilitate their learning.

The parallel is that of a parent allowing his/her child to grow up knowing that the child will make mistakes, be bruised by events, and will take some hard knocks but in the end, with parental support and belief will succeed.

It is essential that in self-managing teams members are allowed to work largely independently of their manager but interdependently as a group. This subtle mix requires the manager of a self-managing team to constantly push the boundaries of the team’s empowerment, continuously taking the team out of its comfort zones and tirelessly working to ensure that the team is not dependent on him/her for their ongoing success.

Those that grow self-managing teams are committed to this facilitation/coaching/mentoring role resisting all the time, the temptation to get unnecessarily involved.

Those that have strengths in this element of growing self-managing teams will be comfortable with a high degree of empowerment and delegation and will easily adopt this facilitating/coaching role.

Those that are weaker in this area will feel that they need to be in control, micro-manage and not take the risks of empowerment. They may well struggle in this area of self-managing team leadership.

Commercial Awareness

In a sense those that grow self-managing teams are consultants to their teams. Great consultants not only have a defined area of expertise they also possess a wider knowledge of businesses, how they work, how they fail and/or succeed and most importantly how they make money. It is this commercial awareness and understanding that is so important when growing a self-managing team. Their team will need to know:

• How to calculate the costs of the processes they use, both direct and indirect costs.

• How to identify activities in the processes they use which add/do not add value.

• How to calculate the value add they provide.

• How to eliminate costs attributed to non added-value activities.

• How to work with internal teams from whom they receive work and to whom they deliver work to improve cross functional team working for margin improvement.

• How to use best practices associated with their type of work and industry norms.

• How to improve their financial success as measured internally by their organisation.

It is the job of the aspiring leader of self-managing teams to educate their teams in all of the above so that they can understand the commercial implications of their day to day operations. They must therefore possess the knowledge and skills to do this.

Those strong in this element of growing self-managing teams possess this knowledge and can pass it on.

Those who are weaker do not and need to fill this knowledge gap if they are to be effective leaders of self-managing teams.

Team Motivation

Aspiring leaders of self-managing teams really understand how to motivate team members. They possess a high level of soft skills which enables them to:

• Gauge the degree of stretch to give their team.

• Build some easy “wins” into new initiatives to boost morale.

• Play team members to their strengths.

• Provide frequent positive and reassuring feedback.

• Confront the brutal facts when problems arise.

• Use training and coaching to lift the team’s performance.

• Help the team learn from their achievements and setbacks.

• Influence on behalf of the team to effect needed changes outside of their immediate control.

• Compare the team’s results to best practitioners to incentivise higher performance.

• Celebrate successes and build recreation time into the team’s activities.

They encourage calculated risk taking, creative and innovative thinking and experimentation within the team. They allow freedom to make mistakes and to learn from them. They keep reminding their team of the necessity to push the boundaries of what is possible to achieve. They promote the idea of being catalysts for change which the whole business can learn from. They increase the team’s visibility within the overall organisation.

Those with strengths in this area of skill recognise the importance of team motivation and the key ingredients to it. They naturally and intuitively know how to build high performing teams.

Those who are weaker need to really focus on the above list of skills to acquire and develop them.

Growth and Development

Those that grow self-managing teams are fanatical about personal growth and development, their own, and that of their team members.

They understand that if they and their team members are not growing their knowledge, insights and skills they are not just standing still but going backwards. They recognise the need for people to both broaden their understanding of the wider external environment, their industry sector development, and how effective organisations succeed, they also see the need to deepen their own and others’ understanding of their own specialist area of expertise. They work on both, for themselves and their team members.

To support and encourage personal growth and development amongst their team members they:

• Accurately assess people’s performance.

• Understand their people’s satisfaction needs.

• Identify people’s unique talents and strengths.

• Hold regular personal development discussions with their team members.

• Use a variety of techniques and resources to grow and develop people’s talents.

They force themselves to grow by growing themselves out of their own jobs, equipping others to “step into their shoes”.

They see themselves as transformational leaders, challenging the status quo, and embracing thought leadership as a way to get people’s attention and to build personal credibility.

They love what they do and investing in their future is no hardship for them. They are generous with their time in helping others to achieve their aspirations. Their energy and enthusiasm is magnetic.

Those strong on this element of leading self-managing teams will naturally focus on their own and their team members’ personal growth and development. They free up their time to attend to this and create space for others to do the same.

Those weaker on this element possibly rely too much on the talents they and others already have and perhaps see growth and development initiatives as an “add-on” activity, nice to do but difficult to achieve. These people need to seriously revisit their mindset and attitude to increase their motivation to invest in this vitally important part of their role as a leader of a self-managing team

To assess your level of skill in growing a self managing team use our growing self managing team questionnaire.

Four Steps to Dream Team Performance

Are you a member of a successful team or one that performs marginally or miserably? Have you ever wondered why some teams excel at what they do and why their people are energized, happy and having fun? What differentiates these successful teams from those that experience low performance, with people who are demoralized, complaining and depressed? You may be surprised to learn that “dream team” performance is almost guaranteed when four foundational neuroscience principles are practiced. They are easy to understand and implement when forming new teams, retooling struggling teams and taking successful teams to higher potential. Dream teams may include couples, families, businesses, sports and organizations of all sizes and types. Teams who practice continuous learning and improvement maintain the “razor’s edge.”

Step# 1 Align Team Members with Mission, Values and Goals

Discussion

A simple definition of a team is “a group of people that come together to do something together.” Teams often fail because their purpose and values are vague, unknown or unacceptable. There must be a clear and compelling purpose and value for team members to be interested, motivated and engaged. Values ultimately determine team success and sustainability, because values drive behavior. The higher values of “service,” “teamwork” and “continuous learning” will ultimately prevail over values of “competition,” “self-interest” and “disrespect.” Even a team with a strong and charismatic leader will fail without a clear purpose and good values.

Neuroscience Principles

Your brain voluntarily engages with work, projects, and people when there are strong value components and desired positive outcomes. Your brain pays maximum attention and engages with situations containing high levels of intrinsic and extrinsic rewards. Your brain likes challenges, inspiration and noble causes. Consistent favorable outcomes, and even the thought of future potential outcomes, keep your brain focused, flexible, curious, interested and hungry for similar experiences.

Practices

All team members will be well served in the process of creating and refining their team mission, values and major goals. These actions connect each person to the collective team. A major role of the Team Leader is to continuously communicate and strengthen the team purpose and values. This step achieves team unity by aligning everyone with the mission and values. Team member needs may vary widely and do not have to be the same to have a united team. Having compelling reasons for each team member to be engaged, interested and productive is the key to this foundational alignment step.

Outcomes

Shared values and alignment of purpose are the team’s:navigation system.” Successful teams never get lost or disconnected, even in changing and chaotic times, when their navigation system points to “magnetic north.” The team is bonded through their values as they work collaboratively and cooperatively in alignment with their mission and goals. Teams having achieved this first step are poised for successful outcomes and camaraderie.

Step #2 Define and Build Core Competencies

Discussion

Essential and collective knowledge, skills and experience form the core competencies of a superior team that meets and exceeds its goals and customer needs. As examples, technological core competencies for Canon include optics and microelectronics; Honda’s technical competencies include small, quiet and powerful engines, and, drive trains. Core competencies may include sales excellence, market research, product development and customer service. Criteria for core competencies include:

  • Transferable to multiple products and services
  • Access to multiple market segments, customer groups and applications
  • Difficult for competition to replicate quickly
  • Learning and brain-based intellectual property

Neuroscience Principles

Core competencies define the focal points for learning, sharing, and applying essential knowledge to the team goals. Learning occurs best when people are willing to be vulnerable and honest about what they truly “know, apply and teach” rather than what they “know about” (e.g. shallow knowledge to impress).The core competency list becomes the most important daily team tool for continuous growth and improvement. This focus harnesses each team member’s brainpower and builds a powerful “team brain.” Intellectual property and skill sets grown by a well-developed team are not easily replicated by competition.

Practices

Each team member is assigned the responsibility to develop and grow one or more core competencies. The list of team core competencies should not exceed five. The analogy is “inch wide and mile deep” rather than “mile wide and inch deep.” Core competency teams constitute a minimum of three people. This helps protect the intellectual property in the event a team member leaves. Core competency teams meet quarterly, or more frequently, to share learning with the other competency teams. This activity can be likened to connecting and filling silos of knowledge.

Outcomes

Teams that focus on creating and growing their intellectual capital set themselves on a high road, rarely traveled by the competition. They get to their destination quicker, safer and with greater ease than those traveling the conventional, well-traveled roads. Learning, growing and applying new knowledge to challenges and problems helps create happy and healthy brains.

Step #3 Align Team Member Strengths with Goals, Core Competencies and Activities

Discussion

Typically, one thinks about team member strengths in terms of subject matter expertise, skills, education, experience, leadership ability and enthusiasm. These are essential characteristics for all successful teams. Rarely are sensory and cognitive thinking strengths valued as important traits. Knowing how each team member’s brain is wired, how they think and how to leverage their brainpower is the missing link to connecting knowledge with team success. The following neuroscience principles explain sensory and cognitive thinking strengths.

Neuroscience Principles

1. Nearly every activity has combinations of sensory and cognitive thinking characteristics that define the “neuro-signatures” of the activity. Team members are more likely to engage, enjoy and perform better in work aligned with their brain strengths.

2. Each team member has unique ways to take in and process sensory information. These strengths affect work productivity, problem solving, decision making, learning and communicating.

3. Team members, exchanging information on each other’s sensory and cognitive thinking “wavelengths”, will understand each other more fully and obtain understanding in the minimum amount of time, thus, improving individual and team productivity. This activity also engenders greater respect and rapport.

Practices

Each team member’s sensory and cognitive thinking strengths are determined by using a reliable and statistically validated survey. Aligning team member brain pathways strengths and knowledge with the neuroscience signatures of the activity is a powerful way to create work assignments. As an example, a team member having Auditory (listening and crafting words) and Global (creative problem solving and seeing possibilities) strengths might be a good candidate for situations involving conflict and negotiation, supplier contracts, joint ventures and legal disputes.

Sensory Pathway Activities:

  • Visual: data entry, quality control observations, reading instructions, visual arts, design, proof-reading
  • Kinesthetic: hands-on activities, operating equipment and tools, physical action and movement, face-to-face interactions
  • Auditory: listening attentively, asking and answering questions, conflict resolution, crafting language, hearing tone of voice

Cognitive Thinking Pathway Activities:

  • Sequential: analysis, staying on-task, organization, logic, process and procedures, tactical, content, practical and realistic
  • Global: open-ended, multi-tasking, options and possibilities, systemic, exploratory, ideating, “big picture,” strategic, context
  • Integrated: a combination and near equal balance of Sequential and Global activities.

When each person’s sensory and cognitive thinking preferences are known, team members can communicate on each other’s “wavelength.”

  • Visual Learners Need: Visual media. Key written points. Pictures. Graphics. Images. Color. Clutter-free environment.
  • Kinesthetic Learners Need: Physical, hands-on experiences. Comfort. Freedom to move about. Frequent breaks.
  • Auditory Learners Need:Clarity of words. Attentive listening. Ability to ask questions. Quiet environment.
  • Sequential Thinkers (“left brain”) Need: Logic. Order. Particulars. Realism. Practicality. Data. Schedules. Content.
  • Global Thinkers (“right brain”) Need: Possibilities. Options. Generalities. Open-ended. Big Picture. Context.
  • Integrated Thinkers Need: A combination and balance of Sequential and Global communication methods.

Outcomes

Teams having achieved Steps 1 through 3 are experiencing phenomenal success. Goals are met and exceeded. Team members are engaged, having fun and can’t wait to get to work. Competition can’t figure out what this team is doing right. Customers are happy and loyal.

Step #4 Continuous Alignment, Learning and Improvements

Discussion

Even in light of high performance, the best teams and organizations seem to “burn out” and lose their competitive differentiation after a period of greatness. Why is this and what can be done to maintain the “razor’s edge?” Continuous alignment, learning and improvement are the keys to continuing patterns of success.

Neuroscience Principle

Your brain gets bored and lazy with the “same old thing” even if, at one time, the “same old thing” was great and wonderful. The brain needs new challenges, new experiences and new learning to operate at peak performance. Applying knowledge and taking action strengthens brain neuron pathways. The potential for neuronal growth is infinite due to the 100 billion neurons that grow multiple pathways to one another like an elaborate root system.

Practices

1. Continuously strengthen the mission and values of the organization

2. Create new and challenging goals for:

a. Core competencies

b. Customer needs

c. Individual and team development

3. Always, always, stay in touch with the customers, tracking their needs and wants. Anticipate their future needs so you are there when they need you.

4. Avoid studying the competition. This is a distraction. It is a better use of time and energy to focus on team performance, customer satisfaction and long-term customer needs. A danger of studying competition is evaluating their weaknesses; in doing so, you may be unconsciously building your own neuropathways around their weaknesses. If you do study the competition, be sure to clearly define their best practices and the patterns of behavior you want to replicate and improve upon for your team.

5. To avoid team members becoming stale, switch positions and establish coaches to continue raising the performance bar. Occasionally, let willing and able team members take leadership positions. Encourage team members to go on sabbaticals to learn, help other teams and be of service to others. Your team may become the spawning place for developing team leaders in your organization.

6. Strive to strengthen and add new core competencies. Learners should teach others as the ultimate way to learn. Subject matter experts and core competency carriers should oversee and coach others. The goal is to build and connect “knowledge silos.” A true learning team continuously builds knowledge, skills and competencies.

7. Embrace and welcome change, including team members moving on, new team members coming aboard and changing marketplace conditions.

Outcomes

Teams who practice continuous learning and improvement maintain the “razor’s edge.” It takes due diligence, focus and high energy to maintain “dream team” performance.

In conclusion, these neuroscience solutions will create, build and strengthen “dream team” performance. The four-step formula is:

1. Align team members with a clear and compelling mission, based on high integrity values that resonate and are important to each team player.

2. Define and build team core competencies as the engine for mission and goal success.

3. Align team members’ knowledge and brain strengths with the goals, core competencies and activities of the team.

4. Promote continuous alignment, learning and improvement.

These four steps may be the best and most advanced way to build superior and sustainable teams using neuroscience principles and leveraging the power of the brain.

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