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Teamwork Part 3: We're always seeking clarity!


There’s a software development company in Ann Arbor, Michigan called Menlo Innovations. One of the ways they provide structure & clarity in their company is with their project managers and developers. To encourage developers to provide real-time information, good or bad, they instituted a very simple predictable process. When the developer needs to communicate anything to the project managers, the project managers have been asked to simply smile & say “thank you”. This encourages consistent communication throughout the team that's critical to the success of all their client projects. When the developers feel safe to communicate with the project managers, vital information doesn't hold up progress and clients receive the most up to date reports on their projects. Simple and very effective!

Seeking Clarity

In everything we do communication is paramount. There have been very few, if any, employees who have left an organization because they were over-communicated to. It's all about the flow of communication. If we are afraid to provide anything but good reports, essential critical information isn't shared. When we hold onto this information because it's seen as making us more powerful it erodes relationships between all team members. You see, we never "get" clarity we're always seeking it. When we don't get it in the natural course of our work it prevents the team from coming together. We're undermining team effectiveness.


Knowing our responsibilities and those of our team members is essential. This is the first step. The next step is truly understanding everyone's contributions to the teams' collective efforts on any project. It's when we can articulate our understanding of how we work with one another the team achieves clarity on collaboration.

Action Items

  • Review the team’s decision-making process
  • Job requirements are known beyond the organizational chart
  • When asked, each team member understands their role on the team & knows the role of other teammates
  • Who is going to do What by When and How will we follow up?

Having an agreed upon decision-making process is a must for any team. The Gore Company uses the Waterline Principle to help them make decisions. They state: "We are all shareholders and we will consult with the appropriate associates before taking action “below the waterline” that could cause serious damage to the long-term success & reputation of our company."

Gore Waterline principle

In this video you’ll see the impact of structure & clarity in how the amazing Bobby McFerrin “plays” the audience at the World Science Festival!

The structure of the pentatonic scale alongside his leadership clarity helps unleash the collective abilities of the audience. Intentional focus on these can do the same for your team!


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  • Gore Waterline principle

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