John Smythe in the Manager’s Chair

To Aston Villa footie ground’s swish directors hospitality suite to facilitate a high speed, dynamic engagement of 140 leaders at a major housing association to contribute the basis for a ten year vision. 

Using our Team Size Escalation process people work alone at first to respond to two simple ‘exam questions’ (essentially what could Great look like to key stakeholders in ten year’s time and what are the challenges to achieving Great?).

Lone working at the outset of any team collaboration process is essential as it requires individuals to articulate their own position in response to the challenges set before they attempt to negotiate with others. The old fashioned practice of casting people into groups of ten or so cold, and asking them to be creative is misguided and lazy.  The few dominate and others shrink or fall in with the agenda set by the noisy few. In these conditions people also respond emotionally as they have not had time to form an intellectual position resulting in incremental rather than radical outcomes.

Back to Aston Villa – having articulated their personal positions the group (including the exec team) formed into teams of five having picked a numbered raffle ticket to prevent people sitting with their mates. They negotiate responses to the same questions asked of them as individuals.  The teams of five merge with another and the same exercise is repeated making the negotiations harder.  The teams of ten then merge with another team of ten and negotiate their final response to the same two questions.  The process rejects duplication and only allows Specific, Actionable & Measurable ideas to make to the final poster.

The post session work requires the go forward team (comprised one from each of the final 6/7 teams of twenty) to pick the best from each submission and design the execution process. 

In short the process is quick and harvests the wisdom of the crowd.  It of course requires an exec team to licence the group to be on equal footing when it comes to charting a future course. 

Though beware that old hierarchical habits can all too easily kick in again which will emasculate the wider team’s efforts and will put people off from future participation. 



If you want to get the best out of a group no matter how small or how large (2,500 the largest so far face to face and many, many more digitally) we can help you do it with élan, enjoyment and guaranteed outcomes – each intervention is designed bespoke – we don’t do anything ‘off the shelf’ but we design them very quickly.  The example here required just one day briefing and design and one day delivery. We employ very few frills – the energy comes from the group not from entertainment.