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June 2006

Teams In Trouble # 10 -- Running Virtual Team Meetings


He remembered saying “How hard can it be leading a Virtual Team?”

After all, everyone on the team had access to each othervia phone (land line and cell), email, Blackberry.  He thought it wouldn’t matter that the team members lived so far from each other.

The team had an initial face-to-face - - a one day meet-and-greet session to review the specs for their assigned project.

The goal was clear:  develop a new marketing plan.

And then reality…

The team wasn’t acting like a team at all.  10 months had elapsed and there was nothing to show for their efforts.

Working with the team was like herding cats - - the team was all over the place.  Hard to lead.

Team members complained about the lack of face-to-face meetings and that the project appeared to have come to a halt with poor communication being the major problem.

The team’s sponsor needs results now.  Flying everyone in for another face-to-face seems like the only way out but the cost (time, money) is prohibitive.

How do you get this team remobilized and working given the resource constraints?

On Thursday May 25, 2006 my colleague Michael Goldman of and I led our tenth Teams In Trouble teleseminar in which we shared proven strategies for running Virtual Team meetings.

Topics we covered:

  • Defining Virtual Teams
  • Typical Virtual Team Meeting Issues
  • Preferential Methods for Communication
  • Advantages of Teleconferencing
  • Getting Ready (how to prepare)
  • How To Lead a Virtual Team Meeting
  • and more...

Listen to the 60 minute teleforum now for free (limited time offer).  Click the link below to download the mp3 file.

Free audio download expired

Download directions to the team building game (Virtual Team Maze) I shared during the teleclass for free (limited time offer). 

Free Teambuilding game download expired.

Michael provides a free (limited time offer) detailed step-by-step write-up of Virtual Team meeting process at his websitefree offer expired

Facilitative Learning - An Interview with Dr. Michael Gass

There is a 12 ounce glass and it has 6 ounces of water in it.

Is this glass half empty or half full?

Mike3 In this audio interview, Dr. Michael Gass of the University of New Hampshire offers his unique persective on this puzzle.  You'll hear how he uses this glass-of-water metaphor to share powerful distinctions between "PROBLEM-Focused Facilitation" and "SOLUTION-Focused Facilitation". 

In this interview we discuss the power of questions, being (and staying) curious and inquisitive, the "confusion technique", approaching difficulties as gifts, and more.

Mike knows what he's talking about:

  • Mike is the author of several books on facilitation and experiential leanring. 
  • Mike is the recipient of the Association of Experiential Education (AEE) Kurt Hahn award for leadership and is the recipient of AEE's Outstanding Experiential Teacher of the Year award. 
  • Mike has presented over 150 professional workshops on adventure and other forms of experiential programming in Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, and North America.

Icon_audio_22 Listen to the audio interview by clicking on the link below (mp3 file).

Download dr. Michael Gass sm.mp3

Understand the Master Collaborator - an interview with Michael Port

Michael_port How does a master collaborator view the world? 

This is the question I posed to Michael Port who recently published Book Yourself Sold - The Fastest, Easiest, and Most Reliable System for Getting More Clients Than You Can Handle Even if You Hate Marketing and Selling.

Using the collaboration skills he teaches in his book and seminars, Michael launched Book Yourself Solid at and two hours later the book went to # 1 on all major business categories and climbed to the # 2 spot overall at

In this audio interview Michael will share key principals on how you can become a master collaborator. 

Book_yourself_solid Whether you're an entrepreneur or an employee of a large or small company, your success will skyrocket when you collaborate more effectively.

This recording is useful for anyone who wants to think big and play a bigger game.

Download michael_port_sm.mp3

During the interview you'll hear Michael mention the Think Big Revolution.  This is a project worth your time.


Team Buying

P4a I love this news item about shoppers (who don't know each other) looking for the same items and find each other online then band together offline to negotiate special deals on electronics, home furnishings, and automobiles.

It's called "Team Buying" and it's the newest shopping craze in China.

Some team buyers approach store managers beforehand, others simply show up (aka "flash mob") and flex their collective muscle.

I wonder how this would work in the US.

Coachville Conference

Last week I attended the annual Coachville Conference held in Chicago this year and this is my brief overview of the event.

Dave_buck_and_tom_heck_2 Dave Buck is the CEO of Coachville and one of my former coaches (that's Dave and me in the photo).  When I hired Dave as my coach in 2000, I thought I was all done with teambuilding and that I wanted to be a "life coach".  Dave quickly saw that teambuilding was in my blood and kept encouraging me to revisit this area of my life.  I am forever grateful to Dave for his patience (I was difficult to coach, I think) and for helping me get on track with my life's work.

All this to say it was a great delight when Dave called to ask if I would lead a 90 minute workshop with all 250 attendees and, of course I agreed! My workshop was called "The Power of Games to Teach and Inspire". 

Tom_heck_and_dave_buck My workshop was designed to support the conference theme of "The Power of Winning".  My goal was to help the conference attendees experience and explore winning and losing in terms of the coaching profession. 

I led a series of activities including one from my Group Loop CD called "Race Car".  People formed into teams of 7 or 8 and then played three rounds of Race Car: 

  1. Round 1 -- Teams play for fun.
  2. Round 2 -- Room is divided into three regions and now you are trying to beat the teams in your region.
  3. Round 3 -- Winners from the three regions come to the front of the room to compete for the "gold medal".  My friend Art Eyzaguirre video taped my workshop and you can view Round 3 of the Race Car game below (2 minutes long) by clicking on the link:

Race_car Download

If you can't view the video clip then you need to download Apple's "Quicktime Player" which is a free multimedia player for PC and Mac:

Dave Buck and I debriefed this activity with the group (that's Dave and me in the photo above).  Dave helped connect the game with the conference theme and participants reported significant insights from the game. 

On my first night at the conference I went to dinner with a group which included Bea Fields who was one of the key presenters at the event.  Bea is a wonderful person and I enjoyed getting to meet her.

Marshall_thurber_and_tom_heck On day two of the conference I had the opportunity to hear another great speaker - - Marshall Thurber who's topic was "Becoming A Positive Deviant" (that's Marshall and me in the picture).  Thurber had us play a game that demonstrated the qualities that enable positive deviants to be leaders in industry and community.  To lead a community you've got to stand out, Thurber told us.  He shared 7 Characteristics of Positive Deviants which you can read here.  Learn more about Thurber's Postive Deviant Network here.

One of the highlights of the conference was Dave Buck telling the story of how he came to be the CEO of Coachville.  Dave shared the struggles he and the company have gone through since the founder Thomas Leonard (one of my heroes) died.  Dave was funny and real and the story helped me remember that everything is a blessing. 

Peaceful_warrior And finally, on my last night at the conference, there was a special screening of an important new movie entitled "Peaceful Warrior" which is based on the best selling book by Dan Millman entitled "Way of the Peaceful Warrior" (one of my all time favorites).  The movie is a must see and will first appear in theatres in limited release on June 2 with a major release starting in the fall of 2006. 

"What time is it?"


"Where are you?"


Assessments for Team Building

Test I've used a variety of assessments in my quest to help good teams become great teams. 

In the course of my research I found an assessment that will accurately predict an individual’s likelihood to succeed in a leadership role.

This assessment is so good, so accurate, it has been used in a court of law.

The assessment is taken online and is a state of the art, performance predicting, "psychometric" assessment tool suitable for selecting new leaders and developing existing leaders.

This assessment is packed with facilitation and coaching points that can be used to identify and capitalize on an individual’s greatest strengths.

If you qualify, you are eligible to take a FREE assessment online.  Learn more about this assessment here.

Jay_kipps I recently contacted Jay Kipps who is an assessment expert.  I asked Jay to help me gain greater clarity on this business of assessments.  I recorded the call so you can listen and learn about what makes a valid assessment and how to use them.  Click on the link below to listen to the interview.

Download jay_kipps_2_mp3_sm.mp3

Here is a document that identifies 12 criteria to use when selecting an assessment.  It's entitled "Assessing the Assessor -- Choosing The Right Profiling Tool For Your Training Business"

Download assessing_the_assessors.pdf


Crucial Confrontations - An Interview with Ron McMillan

Ron_mcmillan_3 How do you resolve broken promises, violated expecations and bad behavior AND do it in a way that will actually strengthen the relationship?

This is the question Ron McMillan answers in his 2005 book Crucial Confrontations which became a NY Times Best Seller.

One of my favorite writers on teams and organizational development is Tom Peters and he says "If you read only one management book this decade I'd insist that it be Crucial Confrontations.

Today I interviewed Ron and we start off by clarifying what a "crucial confrontation" is and is not.  He outlines the 3 criteria that make a confrontation crucial:

  1. High stakes
  2. Opposing opinions
  3. Strong emotions

Crucial_confrontations We then discussed the 4 primary mistakes people make when confronting others and then Ron provides solutions for each.

Icon_audio_20 Click the link below to listen to the 50 minute audio interview in mp3 format:

Download ron_mcmillan_sm.mp3

Learn more about Ron McMillan and his great work here.

The Fourth Turning and America's Next Rendezvous With Destiny -- Teaching Millennials, Our Next Hero Generation

A year ago (June 2005) I had the great pleasure of delivering a keynote to 400 elementary school teachers in San Antonio, Texas.  Watch the entire keynote below. 

The title of my keynote was America's Next Rendezvous With Destiny -- Teaching Millennials, Our Next Hero Generation

This keynote is based on the work of Neil Howe and William Strauss who authored an amazing book entitled The Fourth Turning - What The Cycles of History Tell Us About America's Next Rendezvous With Destiny.  I interviewed Neil Howe and have posted that interview here

The invitation to deliver this keynote came from Victor Herrera who is the director of The Center For Educational Leadership - Trinity University Basic School Center and his wife Kristy Herrera, both of whom are wonderful, caring people who have dedicated their lives to helping others.

I'm a former classroom teacher and have worked with many educators over the course of the last fifteen years so this was a huge opportunity for me.  And 400 teachers?!  Had you interviewed my elementary and middle school teachers back in the day, I seriously doubt any would have pictured me delivering a keynote at a teacher convention!  It was the standing ovation at the end that really touched me and helped me, once again, realize the work I love to do and the ideas I want to share really do touch people's lives.

My keynote was video taped by the North East Independent School District Media Production Dept (thank you guys!)

Duke Lacrosse Players Charged With Rape

Duke_lacrosse Last month (April) two Duke Lacrosse players were charged with rape.  This story made headlines around the US and continues to do so.

I'm following this story with great interest for many reasons. I love the sport of lacrosse and have played, organized, coached and refereed the game.  I also happen to live in North Carolina where Duke University is located and have seen the team play.  My wife survived a brutal assault and rape by an escaped convict (you can read her story here).

Here are some of the facts of the Duke Lacrosse story:  there was an off campus lacrosse party, there were strippers and one of them claimed she was raped.

This case has resulted in protests, accusations of racism and classism, and lots of unrest.  The Duke lacrosse season was quickly cancelled and coach Mike Pressler resigned. Pressler had been at Duke 16 years and the team lost a national title by a goal last season.

Some things I want to know...

What were the top 3 values of the team / players / coach / staff?  Interview each player and ask them to identify the top 3 values.  Was "winning" number one?  Or was character/integrity number one?

When recruiting, did the coaching staff place skill at the top of the list or character?

There are some who believe that you can't have a number one sports team if character is placed at the top of the values list.  Many believe that character and winning are incompatible.  I've seen this demonstrated time and again in my involvement with competitive sports.

I recognize I'm making a judgement here.  I don't know what the values were for this team.  All I see are the results of their values in the news (and then I extrapolate).

The Enron debacle is a glaring example of what happens when character and integrity are NOT the top values.  Winning becomes a short lived experience.  Like a house of cards, the tower will and must fall.

Looking at the Duke Lacrosse story through the eyes of David Hawkin's book "Power vs. Force", I suggest that consciousness of the lacross team - and certainly the party - was below 200 on the Map of Consciousness.  Anything measuring below 200 is "life taking" (i.e. NOT life giving).  Were the lacrosse players encouraged by the coach and others to be Prideful (measuring 175 on the map)?  Was the party with the strippers filled with Guilt (measuring 30 on the map)? The police discovered an email written by one of the lacrosse players that reflected Fear (rating 100) and Anger (rating 150). 

Are you building a team that will crash like a house of cards?  Or are you building a team that will stand the test of time - a team based on the powerful and life giving forces/values of Acceptance (350), Reason (400), Love (500), Joy (540) and Peace (600). 

Ensure Success in the First 100 Days of the Woman Exec

Liz_cornish My friend Liz Cornish has written a wonderful book for new women execs and she is offering a special deal for members of the community that allows you to purchase the book and companion workbook for 38% off list.

About the book…

It’s called JumpStart: A Woman Exec’s Guide to Maximizing Success in the First 100 Days on the Job. If you are being promoted or transferred, taking over a new team or launching a new project, this book is for you.

  • provides a blueprint for success in your first 100 days;
  • shares the advice and wisdom of scores of successful female executives;
  • shows you where the landmines are buried in any workplace;
  • describes how to overcome challenges and disadvantages common to women leaders in their first 100 days;
  • develops strategies for exploiting your strengths and managing your limitations.

Jumpstart_cover McGraw Hill has picked up the book and will be publishing this book soon and the price will go up significantly.

Buy the book and the companion workbook for 38% off list at this special link.

Icon_audio_19 Listen to the audio interview I did with Liz about her book.  Click on the link below:

Download liz_cornish_sm.mp3

TeleSeminar: The Power of Games to Teach and Inspire

Audience1 I'm leading a 90 minute LIVE AND IN PERSON workshop entitled "The Power of Games To Teach and Inspire" at the Coachville Conference in Chicago on May 10, 2006 and it would fun to see you there. 

This is a conference for anyone who is a coach (life or business) or wants to learn more about coaching. 

In my sessioin we will play a variety of games with our teams (conference attendees will be pre-assigned to learning teams). You will find out how you relate to playing, competing, winning and losing which is essential to your life as a coach. At the same time you will learn about how YOU can use powerful games in your workshops and training events and coaching.  The ideas will transform the way you teach forever.

There will be lots of great speakers at the conference and a very cool special bonus I'm looking forward to - - an early screening of the movie Peaceful Warrior which is based on one of my favorite all time books "The Way of the Peaceful Warrior" by Dan Millman (Dan will be at the conference!)

Dave Buck, the president and CEO of Coachville invited me to lead a live teleconfernce call for any who might be interrested in my Coachville Conference workshop.  During this call I shared a couple of teambuilding games and we discussed insights about using games in a coaching situation.  Click on the link below:

Icon_audio_21 Download dave_buck_coachville_sm.mp3

George Washington -- A Model For Leading Teams In a Crisis

George_washington I just finished an amazing and utterly delightful book entitled "1776" which covers that momentous year in U.S. history.

This book by esteemed historian David McCullough had me on the edge of my seat. 

Early on in the book I came to the conclusion that there was NO WAY the Americans were going to win.  How could they?  George Washington was taking a rag tag army (with no navy) up against the most powerful military force the world had yet seen. Right up to the very end of the book I continued to think there was no way to beat the British.

While growing up, my dad had history books all over the house but I was never interested.  My interest in history has grown lately, especially after reading The Fourth Turning.  I'm especially interested in the "winter" phase of history (see the Fourth Turning) - - the American Revolution happened during a winter (crisis) phase (season).

1776 has received a rating at of 4.5 stars (out of 5 stars) from 446 reviews because it is THAT good.

Reading this book helped me realize how tenuous the situation was.  I have a great deal of admiration for George Washington and all of the people who helped make the United States of America a reality. 

And on a lighter note...

Hands "Hail To The Chief" (with flourishes) is the song played for and most commonly associated with the president of the US.  Follow this link to view someone who can play this song with their hands (and only their hands)!