I gave up on the idea more than two years ago. Despite attempting numerous experiments with Bosch starting in 2016, none of them provided the benefits we hoped for. “WOL for Teams didn’t work,” I concluded.
But the Bosch WOL team persisted.
They tried yet again last year, adapting portions of the Circle Guides to fit a six-week format, and last summer I met with them to review the results. Although there was some positive feedback, we agreed that too many of the exercises didn’t work well for a team, and decided the existing guides could not be used.
On the plane heading home, I wrote an outline for a new method. And that was as far as I got. Until Katharina Krentz called me a few months ago to say we should try again.
The core idea
The way Katha framed the idea was compelling. “WOL Circles are able to turn strangers into friends, into people who feel connected and want to help and support each other,” she said. “What if we could do that for teams?”
I thought about some recent testimonials.
"Our WOL circle is like magic. We started as 5 total strangers with such different backgrounds and last week we met for the first time in real life and it felt like we had been friends for years.”
“Not only has it helped us make a massive step towards reaching our growth goals, it helped in times of remote work to connect on a human level.”
“Working out loud can provide some of that social glue that enables organizations to move forward cohesively.”
And a presentation from Amy Edmondson, noted author and researcher on psychological safety, came to mind. It’s titled “How to turn a group of strangers into a team” and she talks about the mindset of effective teams and team members.
“How quickly can you find the unique talents, skills and hopes of your neighbor, and how quickly, in turn, can you convey what you bring?
Because for us to team up to build the future we know we can create that none of us can do alone, that's the mindset we need.”
I was inspired. Could we use the elements of WOL Circles to cultivate this mindset?
An 8-week method
Katharina and Bosch commissioned me to develop a new method, and I worked closely with Monika Struzek over the last several months to write it. (Collaborating with Monika has been a wonderful experience and a highlight of 2020 for me.)
If you have already been in a WOL Circle, certain aspects of WOL for Teams will be familiar to you. You meet as a group of four or five people, and it will be a psychologically safe, confidential space without judgment or competition. (If your team has more than five people, you can form multiple Circles.) Your Circle can meet in person or via video across locations, and the Circle Guides give you exercises that help you each make progress towards a goal you choose.
Beyond that, there are a few notable differences. You meet for eight weeks instead of twelve. And the emphasis isn’t on networking but on building trust and team interactions that lead to better cooperation, better performance, and a better working environment for each of you. The individual goal you choose in Week 1 is based on how you currently view your work and how you would like it to be, both for yourself and for the team.
There is no lack of knowledge about what makes for a good team. There are countless books and articles and research papers on the topic. The challenge is putting these well-understood ideas into practice and applying them to everyday situations.
WOL for Teams is designed to do exactly this. Over the eight weeks you experience different ways of relating to each other so that work is more effective and enjoyable, so each team member can realize more of what they have to offer.
Bosch will begin their pilot soon and, like WOL Mindfulness, we will be offering supported programs. If you’re interested in WOL for Teams in your company, contact me or Katharina Krentz for more information.