Great performance comes from flow

Lionesses celebrating

Great performance comes from flow

Lionesses celebrating
Picture credit BBC News

Sometimes teams just click.  Most of us would recognise that those virtuoso performances come from a place of deep mutual understanding, connectedness, and alignment to a shared goal or purpose.    However, there are some other vital ingredients which, are universally important and often neglected.

In your teams, have you ever noticed…

  • Conversations not being as equal as they might be, a view or individual dominating
  • Resorting to “decision by exhaustion” or “decision by senior status / authority”
  • Conversations in deadlock, cycling round without resolution and progress
  • Relationships being unnecessarily tested, often through misunderstanding
  • Lots of views exchanged, not so much progress
  • People feeling they’ve not been heard and understood
  • Some people holding-back valuable contributions
  • Introverts sitting in resentful silence

And then wondered why there is a lack of buy-in to the process, the output, or even the team itself?

Introducing Teams in Flow (TiF)

What could your team achieve if…

  • There was a positive and cohesive climate
  • Decisions got made with more speed and less friction.
  • There was greater psychological safety; more innovative ideas, energy and engagement
  • Buy-in to decisions was improved, even by those who offered alternatives

What is the magic ingredient?

TiF is all about improving our interactive skill in conversations.  It is well proven with a rigorous research base.

TiF is a unique blend of two threads of research and our own subsequent in-use refinements that span decades.  One thread is behavioural, it relates to the conscious skill set that enables participants to engage with others in conversations which flow, are generative, equal and engender psychological safety.  The other essential ingredient is a guide-rail to structure the conversations – idea generation, decision-making and problem-solving are structures that apply most often in the work of organisational teams.  Both threads are necessary, neither one is sufficient.

TiF results in enduring behavioural change

Skills are only learned, embedded and become habitual through cycles of practice and feedback.  The TiF intervention is all about creating a safe place for the team to learn together through practice.  It is vitally important that the content of the discussion is real and meaningful to the team.  The happy consequence of this is that the “real work” of the team gets progressed at the same time the team is acquiring the new skills.  By virtue of working with every-day teams peer-to-peer feedback and support endures long after the learning experience, sustaining the behaviour change.   

Extraordinary results require a radically different approach

Here at Organisational Vitality our purpose is to help leaders and their teams liberate their full potential; to have fun doing their best, most rewarding work; and to enjoy ever-improving performance. 

We are very comfortable being an outlier to the majority of providers in the Organisational Development space.  We don’t follow the crowd. Challenges in organisational dynamics are, by definition, wicked and messy, and yet most providers offer simple, unresponsive solutions that are incapable of dealing with that inherent complexity. 

We have optimised to serve organisations that are purposeful, progressive and those that are scaling.  We offer highly personalised service, value the relationships we hold with those we serve, and based on our unique diagnostics and interventions co-create healthy participative change in organisations.

Curious to know more?

We would love to hear from you.  The conversation could change the flow of your team – forever!

Let's talk

The conversation has the potential to change the future of your organisation.

OrgScan, enabling you to innovate management and enhance your culture

OrgScan, enabling you to innovate management and enhance your culture

OrgScan is for you if:

  • Your organisation’s culture is not what you’d like it to be; you are losing good people or worse still they are burning-out
  • Your performance as an organisation is not what you’d like it to be; you are losing customers or competitive advantage
  • You are about to embark on a journey of organisational change; here OrgScan helps because knowing where you are starting from is as important as knowing where you are going
  • You are looking for something with rich insights to base your people strategy on; something more robust that an employee survey or more sensitive to your context than the latest OD fad.

What is OrgScan©?

OrgScan© is a rapid diagnostic that has been developed to identify the underlying system conditions (cultural, structural, process, resource etc.) at play in an organisation and some of the appropriate levers for change.  The approach is unique to VitalOrg and can be completed within a week. Whether planning an intervention or facing a challenge, the OrgScan© diagnosis gives an objective, evidence-based analysis of the current reality of the organisation.  In doing so it avoids the pitfalls of change challenges that address pseudo problems and not their causes, or perhaps attempting to address problems that are perceived by those with a voice but not really the priority.

How is OrgScan©


Like many discovery processes OrgScan© uses structured conversations between facilitator and respondents.  It has, however, some key distinguishing features; these have been developed to address five requirements of discovery interventions where understanding the whole-system perspective of the organisation is important.

  1. The first is to develop a valid understanding of the organisation involving only a short time-scale and low commitment of resources. The speed of the discovery process is important, since the system that is the organisation is always changing as is its external environment, thus invalidating any analysis that is slow.  Additionally, short timescales and low resources also lead to low costs.
  2. The second is to develop an understanding of the organisation that reaches into the hidden and obscure, as well as those features that are ‘visible, and on-the-surface’. This includes all the ‘soft systems’ and cultural dimensions, as well as the harder, process and structure orientated characteristics of the organisation.
  3. Associated with this is the risk of data contamination occurring. The OrgScan© uses indirect, non-judgemental questions that reduce this risk to negligible levels.  The insights generated are grounded in reality, not in miss-interpreted questions or “party-line / personal agenda” responses.
  4. There is clear evidence that mono-dimensional initiatives (like “digital solutions” that fail to address the human side of change) seldom deliver significant gains in performance. The need is to capture all of the issues that are currently impacting performance, and then design an intervention that addresses all the priority issues.  The OrgScan© is configured to provide breadth as well as depth.
  5. Finally, there is the happy consequence of the ‘intervention effect’ – that which gets measured gets changed. A very normal consiquence of the OrgScan© is that respondents are positively motivated towards expecting change, and they spread that expectation within their networks.  By adjusting the approach, this effect can be built up or reduced depending on the objectives for the project.  If desired, the effect can be targeted so that the change is in the direction that is needed.

How does it work in practice?

Alongside the sponsor and their team, we carefully select a representative sample from the overall population of employees, every function / team / location needs to be represented, within the various levels of hierarchy need to be represented also.  Also, be aware of character; think about those people who will be open & honest and aim to have a healthy mix of enthusiasts and sceptics. For most organisations 12 – 25 respondents should be sufficient.

The conversations are held by a facilitator, and follow a semi-structured approach, they take between 40 and 80 minutes, the vast majority of participants report that the conversations are enjoyable and helpful to them.

The indirect questioning technique means that it is not the specific content of the individual responses that brings the insight, but much more the patterns and consistencies / inconsistencies that aid understanding.  These are identified when the responses are brought together and analysed.  This means that we can guarantee absolute confidentiality; we never quote any statement, unattributed or otherwise.



What is the output?

The output is typically a set of main themes which are the key factors that the organisation needs to work on (the “what”) each with underlying, more specific addressable aspects impacting the organisations behaviour and performance (the “how”).  These factors are almost always interrelated, thus are typically represented in a mind-map format and used to structure the feedback conversation with the sponsoring team.

How does that help?

Before embarking on any journey of change or improvement, we believe that it is really important to have good data about where you are starting from, the nature of the system and the sorts of things that are driving behaviour.   Regardless of the nature of change (technology change, integration, reorganisation, merger etc.) or type of intervention (coaching, training, leadership development, continual improvement, introduction of new technology and the like) having this understanding helps optimise the intervention design and highlights the potential pit-falls.

If suitable individuals can be made available, we encourage the client team to put forward their own people to become acquainted with the process of running an OrgScan©.  That way they can re-run the diagnostic themselves (with support from us doing the analysis) after a suitable period, thereby better understanding how things have changed and what the next set of improvements might be.


“I highly recommend Ben and Denis for the change they can make in your ways of working, and improvements to your business. They have such a personal approach, and genuinely care that you achieve your goals.”

Martina Arnold – HR Manager at Ventrolla

At VitalOrg we actively promote The Vitality Index (VI) ahead of our other diagnostics for the simple reason that for progressive, purposeful or scaling organisations it is the only diagnostic they need.  OrgScan has a place for organisations where a more “open” and holistic perspective is deemed to be useful.  The nature of the questions enables OrgScan self-configure, thereby identifying the priorities for the organisation.  

Let's talk

The conversation has the potential to change the future of your organisation.

Introducing Teams in Flow (TiF)

Interactive Skills

Introducing Teams in Flow (TiF)

Interactive Skills
Image courtesy of the wonderful folk at ISL Talent


Teams in Flow recognises the vital importance of good interactive skill is based on the following very simple pieces of logic.

  1. In organisations it is people that produce performance
  2. It is what people do (as opposed to what they know or how they feel) that ultimately makes the difference.
  3. In the age of knowledge work, value is rarely created by individuals in glorious isolation; it is teams and collaboration within and between groups that are the “engine rooms” of productivity.
  4. In order to be greater than the “sum of the parts”, a key enabler of groups and teams is the ability to interact in conversation in a generative and effective way.

The vast majority of us go through life without being conscious of our conversational behaviour, and precious few of us are lucky enough to have the “safe space” and opportunity to objectively work on it as a skill.

What is its purpose?

The purpose of Teams in Flow (TiF) is to raise awareness of the personal and collective conversational behaviours that exist and through feedback of objective data, promoting enhanced awareness and vastly improved skill.

Why might you invest in it?

Once learned, participant’s often say, “everyone should have these skills” or “I wish I had this years ago”; they are truly foundational.   Many people report that without the skill, teams are only able to achieve only a fraction of their true collective potential.  With the skill this changes dramatically.

While the main target group is that of management, from first line supervisors to senior executives, Teams in Flow produces more widespread benefits.  By definition, the new style is practised and applied between participants in the training but also with all others with whom they interact at work.

As the new conversational style tends to be reflected by others, there are immediate positive consequences in terms of other employees’ involvement in, and engagement with the business.  The quality of decision-making is improved, as is the effectiveness of planning and execution of changes to improve performance.


When might you use it?

Any of the following might be a signal that Teams in Flow would be beneficial to a team or organisation:

  • Before embarking on a significant challenge or change
  • When the psychological safety in team / group settings is low
  • Where the “HiPPO” effect is prevalent[i]
  • Ineffective team-working
  • Circular conversations & inability to reach group decisions that all can buy into
  • Lack of idea generation and innovation
  • Presence of unhelpful conflict
  • People not feeling valued or understood.

[i] HiPPO referring to Highest Paid Person’s Opinion dominates

How does it work?

The intervention works best with “real” teams in organisations, i.e., groups of people who frequently come together to make decisions or generate output collectively.   VitalOrg facilitators promote a conversation about a decision / challenge / opportunity that is important and relevant to the team at the time.  Using the Teams in Flow model, the facilitators observe and record each and every exchange into one of eleven categories. The facilitators then offer feedback to the group in the form of “count data” of each of the behaviour categories.

Participants quickly appreciate that their unconscious conversational profiles are all similar.  The “ideal” blend is then revealed and straight away the participants are given another opportunity to continue the discussion with the vital difference they are now conscious of both the “how” as well as the “what” of their contributions.

The practice and feedback process repeats through several iterations, so participants practice modifying their patterns of behaviour until they closely approach a researched set of ‘ideals’.  In all cases, the learning groups apply their new skills while processing real issues, decisions and challenges.  Typically, other learning topics are covered as part of the mix.  These may include structural skills such as decision-making, problem-solving and idea creation.  Generally, there is a blend of skill development and knowledge transfer.

Peer-to-peer feedback develops through the learning process, and this continues after the formal learning process is complete – through colleagues naturally providing feedback to each other, thus a sustained behavioural change is achieved.      


Let's talk

The conversation has the potential to change the future of your organisation.