6 Building Blocks of Team Culture

Teams are essential to any organization. Because of this, building powerful cultures within each one is a major factor in determining organizational success or failure. In today's environment, teams are put under a lot of pressure to be dynamic in adjusting quickly to changes and disruptions in the workplace. Because of the pace of change, the culture of teams are falling behind - which means that teams are trying to approach and solve new experiences and situations using old ways of working and interacting which might not work anymore.

The interactions within teams and their situations are currently evolving, therefore, so should their culture. It is from this need that the We Canvas tool was born.

Built from the sociological principle of "we-intentions", the We Canvas was developed as a tool to make culture visible for any team, at any stage.

The Canvas was designed to get teams to design their culture using 6 core blocks - Purpose, Identity, Roles, Goals, Communication, and Interactions.

Block # 1: Purpose

This block is at the center of culture building. Teams with a clear purpose are able to navigate challenges and changes, they are able to adapt quickly, learn fast, and continuously improved.

However, culture does not end with purpose alone. Having a clear purpose does not automatically guarantee high performance. Thus, there are 5 additional blocks to guide teams in designing the culture that they need.

Block # 2: Identity

Over time, teams develop a unique identity. This block was designed to help teams discuss what they want the team to be known for, what values they will hold true, and what reputation they want to build for themselves.

By agreeing on these, it strengthens the collective intentions and identity of the team and increases accountability when it comes to how the team and each member will interact with their stakeholders.

Block # 3: Roles

When roles are clear, the team's interdependence, collaboration, agility increase. This block involves gaining clarity not just on the formal roles that each member brings but also surfaces the talents, strengths, interests, and informal roles that each member plays within the team.

At another level, this block is also critical in getting the team to discuss what roles and impact their team plays within the total organization. This is crucial in aligning the team purpose with the bigger vision and purpose of their organization.

Block # 4: Goals

Clearly defined goals helps teams focus and optimize their performance. This block supports teams in creating, reviewing, or realigning their goals to adapt to give them the agility to adapt to any changes in their internal and external environment.

Beyond the business goals and KPI's, this block may also serve the purpose of helping teams identify milestones they want to reach and work towards given a specific time frame.

Block # 5: Communication

How teams communicate with each other, make decisions, solve conflicts, are crucial to their success.

This block helps team set boundaries and agreements on how they want to communicate with each other. From the mode of communicating, time boundaries, urgencies, frequency, this block brings crucial conversations to the table in order to increase transparency, candor, and improve relationships within the team.

Block # 6: Interactions

The 6th and final block is all about the agreements that the team creates around their own rhythms, rituals, traditions that are both serious and quirky. With the intent of bringing out the uniqueness of the team, this block is often considered the "fun" block where the members are really free to design and create the interactions that they want to support the culture they are trying to build.

Together, these 6 blocks comprise the key elements of the We Canvas. It invites teams to get into crucial conversations around the things that matter to them, all while building relationships, increasing trust, and engaging each member to co-create their own unique culture, own it, and live it out.

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